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A New Adventure in Science and Space! 


by Arthur C. Clarke 

n ' 'W 



C/1 a-J 





J I ERE ARE nine great 
novelettes from the first 
six years of IF Magazine! 
Like The First World of IF, 
which received such enthusi- 
astic response from science 
fiction readers all over 
America, this is a volume of 
exceptional interest — distin- 
guished examples of fine 
science fiction writing by 
outstanding writers. Stories 
that answer the age old 
question: "What would hap- 
pen if — ?" Stories that call 
into play philosophy, logic, 
facts and imagination to 
provide a diversity of enter- 
tainment that will appeal to 
all science "fiction lovers, 
from astronomers to zoo 
keepers. Here you will find 
sgch authors as Charles 
Beaumont, James Blish, 
Phillip K. Dick, Gordon 
Dickson, Charles L. Fon- 
tenoy, James E. Gunn, Ray- 
mond F. Jones, Bryce Wal- 
ton and Robert F. Young in 
an exciting variety of mood, 
idea, theme and pace. 

All newsstands — 50 cents 



JUNE 1958 
S I ^1 All Stories New and Complete 

^^^^^^^^ Assist. Editor: ELAINE WILBER 




GIFT HORSE by Bertram Chandler 30 

DO UNTO OTHERS by Mark Clifton 48 

THE DAY OF THE DOG by Andersen Home 6« 

SOUND OF TERROR by Don Berry 75 

SERVICE WITH A SMILE by Charles L. Fontenay 84 

A MIXTURE OF GENIUS by Arnold Castle 87 

HIGH DRAGON BUMP by Don Thompson 101 







Scene from "Songs of Distant Earth" by Mel Hunter 


IF is published bi-monthly by Quinn Publishing Co., Inc. Vol. 8, No. 4. 
Copyright 1958 by Quinn Publishing Co., Inc. Office of publication 8 
Lord Street, Buffalo, N.Y. Entered as Second Class Matter at Post 
Office, Buffalo, N.Y. Subscription $3.50 for 12 issues in U.S. and Posses- 
sions; Canada $4 for 12 issues; elsewhere $4.50. All stories are fiction; 
any similarity to actual persons is coincidental. Not responsible for unso- 
licited artworlt or manuscripts. 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A. 


Next (August) issue on sale June 12th 


A Secret Method For 


XX THENCE came the knowledge that built the Pyramids and the mighty 
YY Temples of the Pharaohs? Civilization began in the Nile Valley centuries 
ago. Where did its first builders acquire their astounding wisdom that started 
man on his upward climb? Beginning with naught they overcame nature's forces and 
gave the world its first sciences and arts. Did their knowledge come from a race now 
submerged beneath the sea, or were they touched with Infinite inspiration? From 
what concealed source came the wisdom that produced such characters as Amenhotep 
IV, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and a host of others? 

Today it is known that they discovered and learned to interpret certain Secret Methods 
for the development of their inner power of mind. They learned to command the 
inner forces within their own beings and to master life. This secret art of living has 
been preserved and handed down throughout the ages. Today it is extended to those 
who dare to use its profound principles to meet and solve the problems of life in 
these complex times. 

This Sealed Book — FREE 

Has life brought you that personal satisfaction, the sense of achievement and happi- 
ness that you desire? If not, it is your duty to yourself to learn about this rational 
method of applying natural laws for the mastery of life. To the thoughtful person 
it is obvious that everyone cannot be entrusted with an intimate knowledge of the 
mysteries of life, for everyone is not capable of properly using it. But if you are one 
of those possessed of a true desire to forge ahead and wish to make use of the subtle 
influences of life, the Rosicrucians (not a religious organization) will send you A 
Sealed Book of explanation without obligation. This Sealed Book tells how you, in 
the privacy of your own home, without interference with your personal affairs or 
manner of living, may receive these secret teachings. Not weird or strange practices, 
but a rational application of the basic laws of life- For your complimentary copy 
address your request to: Scribe R.E.X. 

^Be Rosicrucians 







In the October issue we asked 
readers to write us something about 
themselves, what they do for a 
living, what they do for fun, why 
they read science fiction, and any- 
thing else they cared to mention. 
So far we have heard from 42 
states, Canada and the West Indies 
— enough of what might normally 
be called statistics to provide sort 
of a "cross-section" survey of what 
the readers of IF do and think. 
Some readers answered all kinds of 
questions (some we'd never even 
have thought to ask) ; others were 
not quite so communicative. For 
instance, one gentleman wrote us 
simply that "I buy IF because there 
is a certain amount of dignity to 
the covers." From this letter we 
could "statistic" only two things: 
the writer was male and he hailed 
from the state of Washington. 
However, we had fun, we hope you 
do, and while we can not undertake 
to answer every letter, we'd like to 
thank all those who vwote us and 
made this survey so interesting. 

Of all letters received, 69% were 
male, with the remaining 31% sur- 
prisingly high (at least to us) for 
the distaff side. Of the female con- 
tingent, 66% were single; of the 
married 34%, half were mothers 
with an average of two children 
each. (I'm glad it came out an 
even two. Statistics that say 43*4 
men, 38i4 women or 14 1/3 child- 
ren bother me! ) Of those who men- 
tioned their occupations, 66% were 
employed, 17% were students and 
the remaining 17% were making a 
full time job of being a housewife. 
Those steadily employed and men- 
tioning their jobs listed the follow- 
ing: engineer (electrical and chem- 
ical), salesman, teacher, doctor, 
clerk, meteorologist, nurse, profes- 
sor, photographer, writer, army (all 
ranks). The most mentioned hob- 
bies were: photography, music (jazz 
and otherwise) , amateur astronomy, 
sports (indoors and outdoors), col- 
lecting science fiction books and 
magazines, stamps, drawing and 
painting, chess and home do-it- 
yourself (carpentry, plumbing, re- 
pairs, etc.). One young lady wrote 
that her hobby was mental tele- 
pathy. A young man at a mid-wes- 
tern high school said, "my favorite 
sport is swimming and secondly girl 
watching (this is a popular sport 
at M. C. H, S. and I am on the 
varsity) ". 

The most frequently mentioned 
authors were Asimov, Russell, Hein- 
lein, van Vogt, Sheckley, Sturgeon, 
Bradbury, Simak, Blish, Andersen, 
Brown, Clarke, Jones, Phillips, God- 
win and Leinster. Artists most fre- 
quently named were Finlay, Emsh, 
Hunter, Freas and Orban. 

And what was the average age of 
IF readers? Well, folks just didn't 
give out too generously with that 
statistic. However, 20% of the men 
did and 10% of the ladies didn't 
seem to mind. And here is what we 
came up with: average age of all 
readers reporting such was 26.3 
years; the youngest was 12 years old, 
and the senior IF reader has 
counted 71 summers. One young 
man wrote that he was 1 5 years old 
and still single! 

When we asked Jimmie Gunn 
{Hoax, Powder Keg, Green Thumb, 
etc.) what life was like out thar 
in Kansas, he replied that it was 
"fantastically normal". The Gunns 
— Christopher, age 8, Kevin, age 4, 
wife Jane and Jimmie — live in a 
three-year-old ranch house about a 
mile from the University of Kansas 
campus, where he is managing edi- 
tor of University of Kansas Aliunni 

Of all science fiction writers, Jim- 
mie Gunn's family seems to be the 
one most steeped in the tradition of 
printers ink. Instead of the prover- 
bial spoon of sorts, he must have 
been born with a printer's measure 
in his mouth and a couple fists full 
of type. Furthermore, his parents 
must have given him a typewriter, 
instead of a teddy bear, to snuggle 
up with when he was tucked in for 
the night. And I suppose it would 
have been quite natural considering. 
His father is a printer; two of his 
uncles are pressmen, and a third is 
a proofreader. His grandfather was 
a coimtry editor. 

Bom July 12, 1923, Jimmie 
breezed through grade and high 

school and graduated from the Uni- 
versity of Kansas with a B. S. in 
journalism. After three years in the 
navy during World War II, he 
studied speech and drama at North- 
western U., and got his M. A. in 
English in 1951. But his write-for- 
pay career, however, started before 
he had finished his schooling. In 
1947, he wrote a full length play 
which was produced at the Univer- 
sity and followed this with features 
and scripts for local newspapers 
and radio. During 1948 he wrote 
his first 10 science fiction stories and 
sold nine of them — all under the 
pen-name of "Edwin James". A 
little later, his masters thesis, a 
critical analysis of science fiction, 
was the only one ever published in 
a professional science fiction maga- 
zine. To date, Jimmie has sold over 
fifty short stories and has published 
two novels. Throughout all his 
writing, his philosophy has been 
that every serious story should con- 
tain some element which makes the 
reader proud he belongs to the 
human race — even tragedy must 
lead to redemption. His space 
stories, in which you will find strong 
evidence of this philosophy (includ- 
ing //oax and Powder Keg), will 
be published in book form this 

Russ Winterbotham reports that 
he's the man responsible for the 
science fiction strip, Chris Welkin, 
which appears in 40 newspapers 
and is translated into Spanish for 
Latin American consumption. He 
also writes westerns, but his regular 
job is fiction editor for the Scripps- 
Howard NEA news service. Obvi- 


ously, Russ not only works at 
writing, but makes it his hobby 
too ... If you're an inveterate 
sidewalk superintendent, make 
tracks for MontreaL One of the 
most spectacular and complicated 
engineering jobs ever attempted is 
going on at the Jacques Gartier 
Bridge. Thirty hydraulic jacks are 
being used to raise the spans 60 to 
120 feet for the St. Lawrence Sea- 
way project — and the flow of traffic 
over the bridge isn't even inter- 
rupted! . . . Not so long ago Dr. 
Lawrence S. Dillon, associate pro- 
fessor of biology at Texas A and M, 
voiced a new theory regarding the 
origination of Mankind: the f)os- 
sibility that Man is a member of 
the vegetable kingdom instead of 
the animal. Which lends the 
thought (among others) that our 
ancestors might have been more at- 
tractive as trees than the monkeys 
hanging by their tails amongst their 
branches . . . One of science fiction's 
most published artists, Virgil Finlay, 
considers himself more of a gallery 
painter than an illustrator, even 
after 23 years. He has appeared in 
various museums, including the 
famed Metropolitan Museum of 
Art in New York City and the noted 
Memorial Gallery in Rochester . . . 
Bertram Chandler {Maze, Bureau- 

crat, Gift Horse, etc.) is a ship's 
officer on the Australian Sidney-to- 
Hobart run . . . Bob Silverberg's 
The Walls Came Tumbling Down 
(December IF) will be published 
in paperback format this spring. He 
has expanded it into a novel which 
will carry the byline of "David 
Osborne". Bob's latest, an exciting 
novelette titled The Wages of 
Death, will appear in the August 
issue of IF . . . The Day of the 
Dog (page 66), an eerie piece of 
story telling, is by a young lady 
whose full-time job is boat editor 
of a Florida newspaper ... In The 
Songs of Distant Earth you'll find 
that Arthur G. Clarke can blend a 
charming love theme with a fasci- 
nating science fiction story . . . Dav- 
id Bunch (Routine Emergency) is a 
Federal employee at the Aeronau- 
tical Chart and Information Center 
in St. Louis. A graduate of Wash- 
ington University of St. Louis, with 
an M. A. in English, his published 
experience, before IF, was confined 
to the literary quarterlies. Or, as he 
puts it, "the pay-in-glory-or-some- 
thing magazines" . . . And if you 
think High Dragon Bump (page 
101) is a wide one in phonetics — 
wel, just start a conversation with 
any three or four year old young- 
ster! — ^jlg 


Illustrated by Virgil Finlay 



The Star Ship Magellan brought Earthmen to Thcdassa for the 

first time in three hundred years! They came by 

accident, to syphon the waters of the sea. Thus, this story 

of how Leon of Earth met Lora of Thalassa . . 

BENEATH the palm trees Lora 
waited, watching the sea. 
Clyde's boat was already visible as 
a tiny notch on the far horizon — 
the only flaw in the perfect mating 
of sea and sky. Minute by minute it 
grew in size, until it had detached 
itself from the featureless blue globe 
that encompassed the world. Now 
she could see Clyde standing at the 
prow, one hand twined around the 
rigging, statue-still as his eyes 
sought her among the shadows. 

"Where are you, Lora?" his voice 
asked plaintively from the radio- 
bracelet he had given her when they 

became engaged. "Come and help 
me — ^we've got a big catch to bring 

So! Lora told herself; that's why 
you asked me to hurry down to the 
beach. Just to punish Clyde and to 
reduce him to the right state of 
anxiety, she ignored his call until 
he had repeated it half a dozen 
times. Even then she did not press 
the beautiful golden pearl set in the 
"Transmit" button, but slowly 
emerged from the shade of the great 
trees and walked down the sloping 

Clyde looked at her reproach- 


fully, but gave her a satisfactory 
kiss as soon as he had bounded 
ashore and secured the boat. Then 
they started unloading the catch to- 
gether, scooping fish large and small 
from both hulls of the catamaran. 
Lora screwed up her nose but as- 
sisted gamely, until the waiting 
sand-sled was piled high with the 
victim's of Clyde's skill. 

It was a good catch; when she 
married Clyde, Lora told herself 
proudly, she'd never starve. The 
clumsy, armored creatures of this 
young planet's sea were not true 
fish; it would be a hundred million 
years before Natiu-e invented scales 
here. But they were good enough 
eating, and the first colonists had 
labelled them with names they had 
brought, with so many other tradi- 
tions, from unforgotten Earth. 

"That's the lot!" grunted Clyde, 
tossing a fair imitation of a salmon 
on to the glistening heap. "I'll fix 
the nets later — let's go!" 

Finding a foot-hold with some 
difficulty, Lora jumped on to the 
sled behind him. The flexible roll- 
ers spun for a moment against the 
sand, then got a grip. Clyde, Lora 
and a hundred pounds of assorted 
fish starting racing up the wave- 
scalloped beach. They had made 
half the brief journey when the 
simple, carefree world they had 
known all their young lives came 
suddenly to its end. 

The sign of its passing was writ- 
ten there upwjn the sky, as if a giant 
hand had drawn a piece of chalk 
across the blue vault of heaven. 
Even as Clyde and Lora watched, 
the gleaming vapor trail began to 
fray at its edges, breaking up into 


wisps of cloud. 

And now they could hear, falling 
down through the miles above their 
heads, a sound their world had not 
known for generations. Instinctive- 
ly they grasped each other's hands, 
as they stared at that snow-white 
furrow across the sky and listened 
to the thin scream from the borders 
of space. The descending ship had 
already vanished beyond the ho- 
rizon before they turned to each 
other and breathed, almost with 
reverence, the same magic word: 

After three hundred years of si- 
lence, the mother world had 
reached out once more to touch 
Thalassa . . . 

Why? Lora asked herself, when 
the long moment of revelation had 
passed and the scream of torn air 
ceased to echo from the sky. What 
had happened, after all these years, 
to bring a ship from mighty Earth 
to this quiet and contented world? 
There was no room for more col- 
onists here on this one island in a 
watery planet, and Earth knew that 
well enough. Its robot survey ships 
had mapped and probed Thalassa 
from space five centuries ago, in the 
early days of interstellar exporation. 
Long before Man himself had ven- 
tured out into the gulfs between the 
stars, his electronic servants had 
gone ahead of him, circling the 
worlds of alien suns and heading 
homewards with their store of 
knowledge, as bees bring honey 
back to the parent hive. 

Such a scout had found Thalassa, 
a freak among worlds with its sin- 
gle large island in a shoreless sea. 
One day continents would be bom 


here, but this was a new planet, its 
history still waiting to be written. 

The robot had taken a hundred 
years to make its homeward jour- 
ney, and for a hundred more its 
garnered knowledge had slept in 
the electronic memories of the great 
computers which stored the wisdom 
of Earth. The first waves of col- 
onization had not touched Thalas- 
sa; there were more profitable 
worlds to be developed — worlds 
which were not nine-tenths water. 
Yet at last the pioneers had come; 
only a dozen miles from where she 
was standing now, Lora's ancestors 
had first set foot upon this planet 
and claimed it for Mankind. 

They had levelled hills, planted 
crops, moved rivers, built towns and 
factories, and multiplied until they 
reached the natural limits of their 
land. With its fertile soil, abundant 
seas and mild, wholly predictable 
weather, Thalassa was not a world 
which demanded much of its adopt- 
ed children. The pioneering spirit 
had lasted perhaps two generations ; 
thereafter the colonists were con- 
tent to work as much as necessary 
(but no more), to dream nostal- 
gically of Earth, and to let the fu- 
ture look after itself. 

The village was seething with 
speculation when Clyde and Lora 
arrived. News had already come 
from the northern end of the island 
that the ship had spent its furious 
speed and was heading back at a 
low altitude, obviously looking for 
a place to land. "They'll still have 
the old maps," someone said. "Ten 
to one they'll ground where the 
First Expedition landed, up in the 


It was a shrewd guess, and within 
minutes all available transport was 
moving out of the village, along 
the seldom-used road to the west. 
As befitted the mayor of so impor- 
tant a cultural center as Palm Bay 
(Pop: 572; occupations: fishing, 
hydroponics; industries: none), 
Lora's father led the way in his of- 
ficial car. The fact that its annual 
coat of paint was just about due 
was perhaps a little unfortunate; 
one could only hope that the visi- 
tors would overlook the occasional 
patches of bare metal. After all, the 
car itself was quite new ; Lora could 
distinctly remember the excitement 
its arrival had caused, only thirteen 
years ago. 

The little caravan of assorted 
cars, trucks — and even a couple of 
straining sand-sleds — rolled over 
the crest of the hill and ground to 
a halt beside the weathered sign 
with its simple but impressive 
words : 




(28 May, 2626 A.D.) 

The First Expedition, Lora re- 
peated silently. There had never 
been a second one — but here it 
was . . . 

The ship came in so low, and so 
silently, that it was almost upon 
them before they were aware of it. 
There was no sound of engines — 
only a brief rustling of leaves as the 
displaced air stirred among the 
trees. Then all was still once more, 
but it seemed to Lora that the shin- 
ing ovoid resting on the turf was a 
great silver egg, waiting to hatch 
and to bring something new and 

strange into the peaceful world of 

"It's so small," someone whis- 
pered behind her. "'They couldn't 
have come from Earth in that 

"Of course not," the inevitable 
self-appointed expert replied at 
once. "That's only a life-boat — the 
real ship's up there in space. Don't 
you remember that the First Ex- 
pedition — " 

"Sshh!" someone else remon- 
strated. "They're coming out!" 

It happened in the space of a 
single heart-beat. One second the 
seamless hull was so smooth and 
unbroken that the eye looked in 
vain for any sign of an opening. 
And then, an instant later, there 
was an oval doorway with a short 
ramp leading to the ground. Noth- 
ing had moved, but something had 
happened. How it had been done, 
Lora could not imagine, but she 
accepted the miracle without sur- 
prise. Such things were only to be 
expected of a ship that came from 

There were figures moving inside 
the shadowed entrance ; not a sound 
came from the waiting crowd as the 
visitors slowly emerged and stood 
blinking in the fierce light of an un- 
familiar sun. There were seven of 
them — all men — and they did not 
look in the least like the super-be- 
ings she had expected. It was true 
that they were all somewhat above 
the average in height and had thin, 
clear-cut features, but they were so 
pale that their skins were almost 
white. They seemed, moreover, 
worried and uncertain, which was 
something that puzzled Lora very 

much. For the first time it occurred 
to her that this landing on Thalassa 
might be unintentional, and that 
the visitors were as surprised to be 
here as the islanders were to greet 

The Mayor of Palm Bay, con- 
fronted with the supreme moment 
of his career, stepped forward to 
deliver the speech on which he had 
been frantically working ever since 
the car left the village. A second 
before he opened his mouth, a sud- 
den doubt struck him and sponged 
his memory clean. Everyone had 
automatically assumed that this ship 
came from Earth — but that was 
pure guesswork. It might just as 
easily have been sent here from one 
of the other colonies, of which there 
were at least a dozen much closer 
than the parent world. In his panic 
over protocol, all that Lora's father 
could manage was: "We welcome 
you to Thalassa. You're from Earth 
— I presume?" That "I presume?" 
was to make Mayor Fordyce im- 
mortal; it would be a century be- 
fore anyone discovered that the 
phrase was not quite original. 

In all that waiting crowd, Lora 
was the only one who never heard 
the confirming answer, spoken in 
English that seemed to have speeded 
up a trifle during the centuries of 
separation. For in that moment, she 
saw Leon for the first time. 

He came out of the ship, moving 
as unobtrusively as possible to join 
his companions at the foot of the 
ramp. Perhaps he had remained be- 
hind to make some adjustment to 
the controls; perhaps — and this 
seemed more likely— he had been 
reporting the progress of the meet- 


ing to the great mother ship which 
must be hanging up there in space, 
far beyond the uttermost fringes of 
the atmosphere. Whatever the rea- 
son, from then onwards Lora had 
eyes for no one else. 

Even in that first instant, she 
knew that her life could never again 
be the same. This was something 
new and beyond all her experience, 
filling her at the same moment with 
wonder and fear. Her fear was for 
the love she felt for Clyde — her 
wonder for the new and unknown 
thing that had come, miraculously, 
into her life. 

Leon was not as tall as his com- 
panions, but was much more stock- 
ily built, giving an impression of 
power and competence. His eyes, 
very dark and full of animation, 
were deep-set in rough-hewn fea- 
tures which no one could have 
called handsome, yet which Lora 
found disturbingly attractive. Here 
was a man who had looked upon 
sights she could not imagine — a 
man who, perhaps, had walked the 
streets of Earth and seen its fabled 
cities. What was he doing here on 
lonely Thalassa, and why were those 
lines of strain and worry about his 
ceaselessly searching eyes? 

He had looked at her once al- 
ready, but his gaze had swept on 
without faltering. Now it came 
back, as if prompted by memory, 
and for the first time he became 
conscious of Lora, as all along she 
had been aware of him. Their eyes 
locked, bridging gulfs of time and 
space and experience. The anxious 
furrows faded from Leon's brow, 
the tense lines slowly relaxed, and 
presently he smiled. 


IT WAS DUSK when the 
speeches, the banquets, the re- 
ceptions, the interviews were over. 
Leon was very tired, but his mind 
was far too active to allow him to 
sleep. After the strain of the last 
few weeks, when he awoke to the 
shrill clamor of alarms and fought 
with his colleagues to save the 
wounded ship, it was hard to realise 
that they had reached safety at last. 
What incredible good fortune, that 
this inhabited planet had been so 
close! Even if they could not repair 
the ship and complete the two cen- 
turies of flight that still lay before 
them, here at least they could re- 
main among friends. No ship- 
wrecked mariners, of sea or space, 
could hope for more than that. 

The night was cool and calm, 
and ablaze with unfamiliar stars. 
Yet there were still some old 
friends, even though the ancient 
patterns of the constellations were 
hopelessly lost. There was mighty 
Rigel, no fainter for all the added 
light-years that its rays must now 
cross before they reached his eyes. 
And that must be giant Canopus, 
almost in line with their destina- 
tion, but so much more remote that 
even when they reached their new 
home, it would seem no brighter 
than in the skies of Earth. 

Leon shook his head, as if to clear 
the stupefying, hypnotic image of 
immensity from his mind. Forget 
the stars, he told himself; you will 
face them again soon enough. Cling 
to this little world while you are 
upon it, even though it may be a 
grain of dust on the road between 
the Earth you will never see again 
and the goal that waits for you at 


journey's end, two hundred years 
from now. 

His friends were already sleeping, 
tired and content, as they had a 
right to be. Soon he would join 
them — when his restless spirit would 
allow him. But first he would see 
something of this world to which 
chance had brought him, this oasis 
peopled by his own kinsmen in the 
deserts of space. 

He left the long, single-storied 
guest-house that had been prepared 
for them in such obvious haste, and 
walked out into the single street of 
Palm Bay. There was no one about, 
though sleepy music came from a 
few houses. It seemed that the vil- 
lagers believed in going to bed early 
— or perhaps they too were ex- 
hausted by the excitement and hos- 
pitality of the day. That suited 
Leon, who wanted only to be left 
alone until his racing thoughts had 
slowed to rest. 

Out of the quiet night around 
him he became aware of the mur- 
muring sea, and the sound drew his 
footsteps away from the empty 
street. It was dark among the 
palms, when the lights of the village 
had faded behind him, but the 
smaller of Thalassa's two moons 
was high in the South and its curi- 
ous yellow glow gave him all the 
guidance he required. Presently he 
was through the narrow belt of 
trees, and there at the end of the 
steeply shelving beach lay the ocean 
that covered almost all this world. 

A line of fishing-boats was drawn 
up at the water's edge, and Leon 
walked slowly towards them, curi- 
ous to see how the craftsmen of 
Thalassa had solved one of man's 


oldest problems. He looked approv- 
ingly at the trim plastic hulls, the 
narrow outrigger float, the power- 
operated winch for raising the nets, 
the compact little motor, the radio 
with its direction-finding loop. This 
almost primitive, yet completely 
adequate simplicity had a profound 
appeal to him ; it was hard to think 
of a greater contrast to the labyrin- 
thine complexities of the mighty 
ship hanging up there above his 
head. For a moment he amused 
himself with fantasy; how pleasant 
to jettison all his years of training 
and study and exchange the life of 
a starship propulsion engineer for 
the peaceful, undemanding exist- 
ence of a fisherman. They must 
need someone to keep their boats 
in order, and perhaps he could 
think of a few improvements . . . 

He shrugged away the rosy 
dream, without bothering to mar- 
shal all its obvious fallacies, and 
began to walk along the shifting 
line of foam where the waves had 
spent their last strength against the 
land. Underfoot was the debris of 
this young ocean's new-born life — 
empty shells and carapaces that 
might have littered the coasts of 
Earth a billion years ago. Here, for 
instance, was a tightly-wound spiral 
of limestone which he had surely 
seen before in some museum. It 
might well be; any design that had 
once served her purpose, Nature re- 
peated endlessly on world after 

A faint yellow glow was spread- 
ing swiftly across the eastern sky; 
even as Leon watched, Selene, the 
inner moon, edged itself above the 
horizon. With astonishing speed, the 


entire gibbous disc climbed out of 
the sea, flooding the beach with 
sudden light. 

And in that burst of brilliance, 
Leon saw that he was not alone. 

The girl was sitting on one of the 
boats, about fifty yards further 
along the beach. Her back was 
turned towards him and she was 
staring out to sea, apparently un- 
aware of his presence. Leon hesi- 
tated, not wishing to invade on her 
solitude, and uncertain of the local 
mores in these matters. It seemed 
highly likely, at such a time and 
place, that she was waiting for 
someone; it might be safest, and 
most tactful, to turn quietly back 
to the village. 

He had left it too late. As if 
startled by the flood of new light 
along the beach, the girl looked up 
and at once caught sight of him. 
She rose to her feet with an unhur- 
ried grace, showing no sign of 
alarm or annoyance. Indeed, if 
Leon could have seen her face 
clearly in the moonlight, he would 
have been surprised at the quiet 
satisfaction it expressed. 

Only twelve hours ago, Lora 
would have been indignant had 
anyone suggested that she would 
meet a complete stranger here on 
this lonely beach when the rest of 
the world was slumbering. Even 
now, she might have tried to ra- 
tionalize her behavior, to argue that 
she felt restless and could not sleep, 
and had therefore decided to go for 
a walk. But she knew in her heart 
that this was not the truth; all day 
long she had been haunted by the 
image of that young engineer, whose 
name and position she had man- 


aged to discover without, she hoped, 
arousing too much curiosity among 
her friends. 

It was not even luck that she had 
seen him leave the Guesthouse; she 
had been watching most of the 
evening from the porch of her 
father's residence, on the other side 
of the street. And it was certainly 
not luck, but deliberate and careful 
planning, that had taken her to this 
point on the beach as soon as she 
was sure of the direction Leon was 

He came to a halt a dozen feet 
away. (Did he recognise her? Did 
he guess that this was no accident? 
For a moment her courage almost 
failed her, but it was too late now 
to retreat.) Then he gave a curious, 
twisted smile that seemed to light 
up his whole face and made him 
look even younger than he was. 

"Hello," he said. "I never ex- 
pected to meet anyone at this time 
of night. I hope I haven't disturbed 

"Of course not," Lora answered, 
trying to keep her voice as steady 
and emotionless as she could. 

"I'm from the ship, you know. I 
thought I'd have a look at Thalassa 
while I'm here." 

At those last words, a sudden 
change of expression crossed Lora's 
face; the sadness he saw there puz- 
zled Leon, for it could have no 
cause. And then, with an instan- 
taneous shock of recognition, he 
knew that he had seen this girl be- 
fore and understood what she was 
doing here. This was the girl who 
had smiled at him when he cama 
out of the ship . . . 

There seemed nothing to say. 


They stared at each other across the 
wrinkled sand, each wondering at 
the miracle that had brought them 
together out of the immensity of 
time and space. Then, as if in un- 
conscious agreement, they sat facing 
each other on the gunwale of the 
boat, still without a word. 

This is folly, Leon told himself. 
What am I doing here? What right 
have I, a wanderer passing through 
this world, to touch the lives of its 
people? I should make my apologies 
and leave this girl to the beach and 
the sea that are her birthright, not 

Yet he did not leave. The bright 
disc of Selene had risen a full hand's 
breadth above the sea when he said 
at last: "What's your name?" 

"I'm Lora," she answered, in the 
soft, lilting accent of the islanders 
which was so attractive, but not al- 
ways easy to understand. 

"And I'm Leon Carrell, Assistant 
Propulsion Engineer, Star-ship Ma- 

She gave a little smile as he in- 
troduced himself, and at that mo- 
ment Leon was certain that she al- 
ready knew his name. At the same 
time a completely irrelevant and 
whimsical thought struck him; un- 
til a few minutes ago he had been 
dead-tired, just about to turn back 
for his overdue sleep. Yet now he 
was fully awake and alert — poised, 
as it were, on the brink of a new 
and unpredictable adventure. 

But Lora's next remark was pre- 
dictable enough: "How do you like 

"Give me time," Leon countered. 
"I've only seen Palm Bay, and not 
much of that." 


"Will you be here — very long?" 

The pause was barely perceptible, 
but his ear detected it. This was the 
question that really mattered. 

"I'm not sure," he replied, truth- 
fully enough. "It depends how long 
the repairs take." 

"What went wrong?" 

"Oh, we ran into something too 
big for our meteor screen to absorb. 
And — bang! — that was the end of 
the screen. So we've got to make a 
new one." 

"And you think you can do that 

"We hope so. The main problem 
will be lifting about a million tons 
of water up to the Magellan. Luck- 
ily, I think Thalassa can spare it." 

"Water? I don't understand." 

"Well, you know that a star-ship 
travels at almost the speed of light; 
even then it takes years to get any- 
where, so that we have to go into 
suspended animation and let the 
automatic controls run the ship." 

Lora nodded "Of course — that's 
how our ancestors got here." 

"Well, the speed would be no 
problem if space was really empty, 
but it isn't. A star-ship sweeps up 
thousands of atoms of hydrogen, 
particles of dust, and sometimes 
larger fragments, every second of its 
flight. At nearly the speed of light, 
these bits of cosmic junk have 
enormous energy, and could soon 
burn up the ship. So we carry a 
shield about a mile ahead of us, 
and let that get burnt up instead. 
Do you have umbrellas on this 

"Why— yes," Lora replied, obvi- 
ously baffled by the incongruous 


"Then you can compare a star- 
ship to a man moving head-down 
through a rain-storm behind the 
cover of an umbrella. The rain is 
the cosmic dust between the stars, 
and our ship was unlucky enough to 
lose its umbrella." 

"And you can make a new one 
of water?" 

"Yes; it's the cheapest building 
material in the universe. We freeze 
it into an iceberg which travels 
ahead of us. What could be simpler 
than that?" 

Lora did not answer; her 
thoughts seemed to have veered on 
to a new track. Presently she said, 
her voice so low and wistful that 
Leon had to bend forward to hear 
it against the rolling of the surf: 
"And you left Earth a hundred 
years ago." 

"A hundred and four. Of course, 
it seems only a few weeks, since we 
were deep-sleeping until the auto- 
pilot revived us. All the colonists 
are still in suspended animation; 
they don't know that anything's 

"And presently you'll join them 
again, and sleep your way on to the 

Leon nodded, avoiding her eye. 
"That's right. Planetfall will be a 
few months late, but what does 
that matter on a trip that takes 
three hundred years?" 

Lora pointed to the island behind 
them, and then to the shoreless sea 
at whose edge they stood. 

"It's strange to think that your 
sleeping friends up there will never 
know anything of all this. I feel 
sorry for them." 

"Yes, only we fifty or so engineers 


will have any memories of Thalassa. 
To everyone else in the ship, our 
stop here will be nothing more than 
a two-hundred-year-old entry in the 

He glanced at Lora's face, and 
saw again that sadness in her eyes. 

"Why does that make you un- 

She shook her head, unable to 
answer. How could one express the 
sense of loneliness that Leon's 
words had brought to her? The lives 
of men, and all their hopes and 
fears, were so little against the in- 
conceivable immensities that they 
had dared to challenge. The 
thought of that three-hundred-year 
journey, not yet half completed, 
was something from which her mind 
recoiled in horror. And yet— in her 
own veins was the blood of those 
earlier pioneers who had followed 
the same path to Thalassa, cen- 
turies ago. 

The night was no longer friendly. 
She felt a sudden longing for her 
home and family, for the little room 
which held everything she owned 
and which was all the world she 
knew or wanted. The cold of space 
was freezing her heart; she wished 
now that she had never come on 
this mad adventure. It was time — 
more than time — to leave. 

As she rose to her feet, she no- 
ticed that they had been sitting on 
Clyde's boat, and wondered what 
unconscious prompting of her mind 
had brought her here to this one 
vessel out of all the little fleet lined 
up along the beach. At the thought 
of Clyde, a spasm of uncertainty, 
even of guilt, swept over her. Never 
in h^r life, except for the most fleet- 


ing moments, had she thought of 
any other man but him. Now she 
could no longer pretend that this 
was true. 

"What's the matter?" asked 
Leon. "Are you cold?" He held out 
his hand to her, and for the first 
time their fingers touched as she 
automatically responded. But at the 
instant of contact, she shied like a 
startled animal and jerked away. 

"I'm all right," she answered, al- 
most angrily. "It's late — I must go 
home. Good-bye," 

Her reaction was so abrupt that 
it took Leon by surprise. Had he 
said anything to offend her? he 
wondered. She was already walking 
quickly away when he called after 
her: "I will see you again?" 

If she answered, the sound of the 
waves carried away her voice. He 
watched her go, puzzled and a little 
hurt, while not for the first time in 
his life he reflected how hard it was 
to understand the mind of a wom- 

For a moment he thought of fol- 
lowing her and repeating the ques- 
tion, but in his heart he knew there 
was no need. As surely as the sun 
would rise tomorrow, they would 
meet again. 

AND NOW the life of the island 
was dominated by the crippled 
giant a thousand miles out in space. 
Before dawn and after sunset, when 
the world was in darkness but the 
light of the sun still streamed over- 
head, the Magellan was visible as a 
brilliant star, the brightest object 
in all the sky except the two moons 
themselves. But even when it could 


not be seen — when it was lost in the 
glare of day or eclipsed by the shad- 
ow of Thalassa — it was never far 
from men's thoughts. 

It was hard to believe that only 
fifty of the star-ship's crew had 
been awakened, and that not even 
half of those were on Thalassa at 
any one time. They seemed to be 
everywhere, usually in little groups 
of two or ijiree, walking swiftly on 
mysterious errands or riding small 
anti-gravity scooters which floated 
a few feet from the ground, and 
moved so silently that they made 
life in the village rather hazardous. 
Despite the most pressing invita- 
tions, the visitors had still taken no 
part in the cultural and social ac- 
tivities of the island. They had ex- 
plained, politely but firmly, that un- 
til the safety of their ship was se- 
cured, they would have no time for 
any other interests. Later, certainly, 
but not now . . . 

So Thalassa had to wait with 
what patience it could muster, while 
the Earthmen set up their instru- 
ments, made their surveys, drilled 
deep into the rocks of the island, 
and carried out scores of experi- 
ments which seemed to have no pos- 
sible connection with their problem. 
Sometimes they consulted briefliy 
with Thalassa' s own scientists, but 
on the whole they kept to them- 
selves. It was not that they were un- 
friendly or aloof; they were work- 
ing with such a fierce and dedicated 
intensity that they were scarcely 
aware of anyone around them. 

After their first meeting, it was 
two days before Lora spoke to Leon 
again. She saw him from time to 
time as he hurried about the village, 


usually with a bulging brief-case 
and an abstracted expression, but 
they were able to exchange only 
the briefest of smiles. Yet even this 
was enough to keep her emotions in 
turmoil, to banish her peace of 
mind, and to poison her relation- 
ship with Clyde. 

As long as she could remember 
he had been part of her life; they 
had had their quarrels and dis- 
agreements, but no-one else had 
ever challenged his place in her 
heart. In a few months they would 
be married — yet now she was not 
even sure of that, or indeed of any- 

"Infatuation" was an ugly word, 
which one applied only to other 
people. But how else could she ex- 
plain this yearning to be with a 
man who had come suddenly into 
her life from nowhere, and who 
must leave again in a few days or 
weeks? No doubt the glamor and 
romance of his origin was partly 
responsible, but that alone was not 
enough to account for it. There 
were other Earthmen better-looking 
than Leon, yet she had eyes for him 
alone and her life now was empty 
unless she was in his presence. 

By the end of the first day only 
her family knew about her feelings ; 
by the end of the second everyone 
she passed gave her a knowing 
smile. It was impossible to keep a 
secret in such a tight and talkative 
a community as Palm Bay, and she 
knew better than to attempt it. 

Her second meeting with Leon 
was accidental — as far as such 
things can ever be accidents. She 
was helping her father deal with 
some of the correspondence and en- 


quiries which had flooded upon 
the village since the Earthmen's ar- 
rival, and was trying to make some 
sense out of her notes when the 
door of the office opened. It had 
opened so often in the last few 
days that she had ceased to look up ; 
her younger sister was acting as re- 
ceptionist and dealt with all the 
visitors. Then she heard Leon's 
voice; and the paper blurred be- 
fore her eyes, the notes might have 
been in an unknown language. 

"May I see the Mayor, please?" 

"Of course, Mr.—?" 

"Assistant Engineer Carrell." 

"I'll go and fetch him. Won't 
you sit down?" 

Leon slumped wearily on the an- 
cient armchair that was the best the 
reception room could offer its in- 
frequent visitors, and not until then 
did he notice that Lora was watch- 
ing him silently from the other side 
of the room. At once he sloughed 
off his tiredness and shot to his 

"Hello — I didn't know you 
worked here." 

"I live here; my father's the 

This portentous news did not 
seem to impress Leon unduly. He 
walked over to the desk, and picked 
up the fat volume through which 
Lora had been browsing between 
her secretarial duties. 

" 'A Concise History of Earth'," 
he read, " 'from the Dawn of Civ- 
ilization to the Beginning of Inter- 
stellar Flight.' And all in a thou- 
sand pages! It's a pity it ends three 
hundred years ago." 

"We hope that you'll soon bring 
us up to date. Has much happened 


since that was written?" 

"Enough to fill about fifty li- 
braries, I suppose. But before we go, 
we'll leave you copies of all our 
records, so that your history books 
will only be a hundred years out 
of date." 

They were circling round each 
other, avoiding the only thing that 
was imp)ortant. When can we meet 
again? Lora's thoughts kept ham- 
mering silently, unable to break 
through the barrier of speech. And 
does he really like me, or is he mere- 
ly making polite conversation? 

The inner door opened, and the 
Mayor emerged apologetically from 
his office. 

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. 
Carrell, but the President was on 
the line— he's coming over this 
afternoon. And what can I do for 

Lora pretended to work, but she 
typed the same sentence eight times 
while Leon delivered his message 
from the captain of the Magellan. 
She was not a great deal wiser when 
he had finished; it seemed that the 
star-ship's engineers wished to build 
some equipment on a headland a 
mile from the village, and wanted 
to make sure there would be no ob- 

"Of course!" said Mayor Fordyce 
expansively, in his nothing's-too- 
good-for-our-guests tone of voice. 
"Go right ahead — the land doesn't 
belong to anybody, and no-one lives 
there. What do you want to do with 

"We're building a gravity invert- 
er, and the generator has to be an- 
chored in solid bedrock. It may be 
a little noisy when it starts to run, 


but I don't think it will disturb you 
here in the village. And of course 
we'll dismantle the equipment when 
we've finished." 

Lora had to admire her father. 
She knew perfectly well that Leon's 
request was as meaningless to him 
as it was to her, but one would 
never have guessed it. 

"That's perfectly all right — glad 
to be of any help we can. And will 
you tell Captain Gold that the 
President's coming at five this after- 
noon? I'll send my car to collect 
him; the reception's at five thirty 
in the village Hall." 

When Leon had given his thanks 
and departed. Mayor Fordyce 
walked over to his daughter and 
picked up the slim pile of corre- 
spondence she had none-too-accu- 
rately typed. 

"He seems a pleasant young 
man," he said, "but is it a good 
idea to get too fond of him?" 

"I don't know what you mean." 

"Now, Lora! After all, I am your 
father, and I'm not completely un- 

"He's not— not — a bit interested 
in me." 

"Are you interested in him?" 

"I don't know. Oh, Daddy, I'm 
so unhappy!" 

Mayor Fordyce was not a brave 
man, so there was only one thing he 
could do. He donated his handker- 
chief and fled back into his office. 

IT WAS the most difficult prob- 
lem that Clyde had ever faced in 
his life, and there were no prece- 
dents that gave any help at all. Lora 
belonged to him — everyone knew 


that. If his rival had been another 
villager, or someone from any other 
part of Thalassa, he knew exactly 
what he would have done. But the 
laws of hospitality, and above all his 
natural awe for anything of Earth, 
prevented him from politely asking 
Leon to take his attentions else- 
where. It would not be the first time 
that had happened, and there had 
never been the slightest trouble on 
those earlier occasions. That could 
have been because Clyde was over 
six feet tall, proportionally broad, 
and had no excess fat on his 190 
pound frame. 

During the long hours at sea, 
when he had nothing else to do but 
to brood, Clyde toyed with the idea 
of a short, sharp bout with Leon. 
It would be very short; though 
Leon was not as skinny as most of 
the Earthmen, he shared their pale, 
washed-out look and was obviously 
no match for anyone who led a life 
of physical activity. That was the 
trouble — it wouldn't be fair. Clyde 
knew that public opinion would be 
outraged if he had a fight with 
Leon, however justified he might 

And how justified was he? That 
was the big problem that worried 
Clyde, as it had worried a good 
many billion men before him. It 
seemed that Leon was now prac- 
tically one of the family; every time 
he called at the Mayor's house the 
Earthman seemed to be there on 
some pretext or other. Jealousy was 
an emotion which had never afflict- 
ed Clyde before, and he did not 
enjoy the symptoms. 

He was still furious about the 
dance. It had been the biggest so- 


cial event for years; indeed, it was 
not likely that Palm Bay would ever 
match it again in the whole of its 
history. To have the President of 
Thalassa, half the Council, and fifty 
visitors from Earth in the village at 
the same moment was not some- 
thing that could happen again this 
side of Eternity. 

For all his size and strength, 
Clyde was a good dancer — espe- 
cially with Lora. But tonight he had 
little chance of proving it; Leon 
was too busy demonstrating the lat- 
est steps from Earth (latest, that is, 
if you overlooked the fact that they 
must have passed out of fashion a 
hundred years ago). In Clyde's 
opinion, Leon's technique was very 
poor and the dances were ugly; the 
interest that Lora showed in them 
was perfectly ridiculous. 

He had been foolish enough to 
tell her so when his opportunity 
came; and that was the last dance 
he had had with Lora that evening. 
From then onwards, he might not 
have been there as far as she was 
concerned. Clyde endured the boy- 
cott as long as he could, then left 
for the bar with one objective 
in mind. He quickly attained it, and 
not until he came reluctantly to his 
senses the next morning did he dis- 
cover what he had missed. 

The dancing had ended early. 
There had been a short speech from 
the President — his third that eve- 
ning — introducing the commander 
of the starship and promising a lit- 
tle surprise. Captain Gold had been 
equally brief; he was obviously a 
man more accustomed to orders 
than orations. 

"Friends," he began. "You know 


why we're here, and I've no need 
to say how much we appreciate 
your hospitahty and kindness. We 
shall never forget you, and we're 
only sorry that we have so little time 
to see your beautiful island and its 
people. I hope you will forgive us 
for any seeming discourtesy, but the 
repair of our ship, and the safety 
of our companions, has had to take 
priority in our minds. 

"In the long run, the accident 
that brought us here may be for- 
tunate for us both. It has given us 
happy memories, and also inspira- 
tion. What we have seen here is a 
lesson to us. May we make the 
world that is waiting at the end of 
our journey as fair a home for man- 
kind as you have made Thalassa. 

"And before we resume our voy- 
age, it is both a duty and a pleasure 
to leave with you all the records we , 
can that will bridge the gap since 
you last had contact with Earth. 
Tomorrow we shall invite your 
scientists and historians up to our 
ship so that they can copy any of 
our information tapes they desire. 
Thus we hope to leave you a legacy 
which will enrich your world for 
generations to come. That is the 
very least we can do. 

"But tonight, science and history 
can wait, for we have other treas- 
ures aboard. Earth has not been idle 
in the centuries since your fore- 
fathers left. Listen, now, to some of 
the heritage we share together, and 
which we will leave upon Thalassa 
before we go our way." 

The lights dimmed; the music 
began. Noone who was present 
would ever forget this moment. In 
a trance of wonder, Lora listened 

to what men had wrought in sound 
during the centuries of separation. 
Time meant nothing; she was not 
even conscious of Leon standing by 
her side, holding her hand, as the 
music ebbed and flowed around 

These were the things that she 
had never known, the things that 
belonged to Earth, and to Earth 
alone. The slow beat of mighty 
bells, climbing like invisible smoke 
from old cathedral spires; the chant 
of patient boatmen, in a thousand 
tongues now lost forever, rowing 
home against the tide in the last 
light of day; the songs of armies 
marching into battles that Time 
had robbed of all their pain and 
evil; the merged murmur of ten 
million voices as Man's greatest 
cities woke to meet the dawn; the 
cold dance of the Aurora over end- 
less seas of ice; the roar of mighty 
engines climbing upwards on the 
highway to the stars. All these she 
heard in the music and the songs 
that came out of the night — the 
songs of distant Earth, carried to 
her across the light-years. . . 

A clear soprano voice, swooping 
and soaring like a bird at the very 
edge of hearing, was singing a 
wordless lament that tore at the 
heart. It was a dirge for all love 
lost in the loneliness of space, for 
friends and homes that could never 
again be seen and must fade at last 
from memory. It was a song for all 
exiles, and it spoke as clearly to 
those who were sundered from 
Earth by a dozen generations as to 
the voyagers to whom its fields and 
cities still seemed only weeks away. 

The music died into the dark- 


ness; misty-eyed, avoiding words, 
the people of Thalassa went slowly 
to their homes. But Lora did not 
go to hers; against the loneliness 
that had pierced her very soul, 
there was only one defence. And 
presently she found it, in the warm 
night of the forest, as Leon's arms 
tightened around her and their 
souls and bodies merged. Like way- 
farers lost in a hostile wilderness, 
they sought warmth and comfort 
beside the fire of love. While that 
fire burned, they were SEife from 
the shadows that prowled in the 
night, and all the universe of stars 
and planets shrank to a toy that 
they could hold within their hands. 

TO LEON, it was never wholly 
real. Despite all the urgency 
and peril that had brought them 
here, he sometimes fancied that at 
journey's end it would be hard to 
convince himself that Thalassa was 
not a dream that had come in his 
long sleep. This fierce and fore- 
doomed love, for example; he had 
not asked for it — it had been thrust 
upon him. Yet there were few men, 
he told himself, who would not have 
taken it, had they too landed, after 
weeks of grinding anxiety, on this 
peaceful, pleasant world. 

When he could escape from 
work, he had long walks with Lora 
in the fields far from the village, 
where men seldom came and only 
the robot cultivators disturbed the 
solitude. For hours Lora would 
question him about Earth — ^but she 
would never speak of the planet 
which was the Magellan's goal. He 
understood her reasons well enough, 


and did his best to satisfy her end- 
less curiosity about the world that 
was already "home" to more men 
than had ever seen it with their 
own eyes. 

She was bitterly disappointed to 
hear that the age of cities had 
passed. Despite all that Leon could 
tell her about the completely de- 
centralized culture that now cov- 
ered the planet from Pole to Pole, 
she still thought of Earth in terms 
of such vanished giants as Chand- 
rigar, London, Astrograd, New 
York, and it was hard for her to 
realize that they had gone forever, 
and with them the way of life they 

"When we left Earth," Leon ex- 
plained, "the largest centers of 
population were university towns 
like Oxford or Ann Arbor or Can- 
berra ; some of them had fifty thou- 
sand students and professors. There 
are no other cities left of even half 
that size." 

"But what happened to them?" 

"Oh, there was no single cause, 
but the development of communica- 
tions started it. As soon as anyone 
on Earth could see and talk to any- 
one else by pressing a button, most 
of the need for cities vanished. 
Then anti-gravity was invented, 
and you could move goods or 
houses or anything else through the 
sky Vidthout bothering about geog- 
raphy. That completed the job of 
wiping out distance that the air- 
plane had begun a couple of cen- 
turies earlier. After that, men 
started to live where they liked, and 
the cities dwindled away." 

For a moment Lora did not an- 
swer; she was lying on a bank of 


grass, watching the behavior of a 
bee whose ancestors, like hers, had 
been citizens of Earth. It was trying 
vainly to extract honey from one 
of Thalassa's native flowers; insect 
life had not yet arisen on this world, 
and the few indigenous flowers had 
not yet invented lures for air-borne 

The frustrated bee gave up the 
hopeless task and buzzed angrily 
away; Lora hoped that it would 
have enough sense to head back to 
the orchards where it would find 
more co-operative flowers. When 
she spoke again, it was to voice a 
dream that had now haunted man- 
kind for almost a thousand years. 

"Do you suppose," she said wist- 
fully, "that we'll ever break through 
the speed of light?" 

Leon smiled, knowing where her 
thoughts were leading. To travel 
faster than light— to go home to 
Earth, yet to return to your native 
world while your friends were still 
alive — every colonist must, at some 
time or other, have dreamed of this. 
There was no problem, in the whole 
history of the human race, which 
had called forth so much effort and 
which still remained so utterly in- 

"I don't believe so," he said. "If 
it could be done, someone would 
have discovered how by this time. 
No— we have to do it the slow way, 
because there isn't any other. That's 
how the Universe is built, and 
there's nothing we can do about it." 

"But surely we could still keep in 

Leon nodded. "That's true," he 
said, "and we try to. I don't know 
what's gone wrong, but you should 


have heard from Earth long before 
now. We've been sending out robot 
message-carriers to all the colonies, 
carrying a full history of everything 
that's happened up to the time of 
departure, and asking for a report 
back. As the news returns to Earth, 
it's all transcribed and sent out 
again by the next messenger. So 
we have a kind of interstellar news 
service, with the Earth as the cen- 
tral clearing house. It's slow, of 
course, but there's no other way of 
doing it. If the last messenger to 
Thalassa has been lost, there must 
be another on the way — maybe 
several, twenty or thirty years 

Lora tried to envisage the vast, 
star-spanning network of message- 
carriers, shuttling back and forth 
between Earth and its scattered 
children, and wondered why Thal- 
assa had been overlooked. But with 
Leon beside her, it did not seem 
important. He was here ; Earth and 
the stars were very far away. And 
so also, with whatever unhappiness 
it might bring, was tomorrow. . . 

BY THE END of the week, the 
visitors had built a squat and 
heavily-braced monster of metal 
girders, housing some obscure mech- 
anism, on a rocky headland over- 
looking the sea. Lora, in common 
with the 371 other inhabitants of 
Palm Bay and the several thousand 
sightseers who had descended upon 
the village, was watching when the 
first test was made. No one was al- 
lowed to go within a quarter of a 
mile of the machine — a precaution 
which aroused a good deal of alarm 


among the more nervous islanders. 
Did the Earthmen know what they 
were doing? Suppose that some- 
thing went wrong? And what were 
they doing, anyway? 

Leon was there with his friends 
inside the metal monster, making 
the final adjustments — the 'coarse 
focussing', he had told Lora, leaving 
her none the wiser. She watched 
with the same anxious incompre- 
hension as all her fellow islanders 
until the distant figures emerged 
from the machine and walked to 
the edge of the flat-topped rock on 
which it was built. There they 
stood, a tiny group of figures sil- 
houetted against the ocean, staring 
out to sea. 

A mile from the shore, some- 
thing strange was happening to the 
water. It seemed that a storm was 
brewing — but a storm that kept 
within an area only a few hundred 
yards across. Mountainous waves 
were building up, smashing against 
each other and then swiftly sub- 
siding again. Within a few minutes 
the ripples of the disturbance had 
reached the shore, but the center 
of the tiny storm showed no sign 
of movement. It was as if, Lora 
told herself, an invisible finger had 
reached down from the sky and was 
stirring the sea. 

Quite abruptly, the entire pat- 
tern changed. Now the waves were 
no longer battering against each 
other; they were marching in step, 
moving more and more swiftly in a 
tight circle. A cone of water was 
rising from the sea, becoming taller 
and thinner with every second. Al- 
ready it was a hundred feet high, 
and the sound of its birth was an 


angry roaring that filled the air 
and struck terror into the hearts 
of all who heard it. All, that is, 
except the little band of men who 
had summoned this miracle from 
the deep, and who still stood watch- 
ing it with calm assurance, ignoring 
the waves that were breaking al- 
most against their feet. 

Now the spinning tower of water 
was climbing swiftly up the sky, 
piercing the clouds like an arrow 
as it headed towards space. Its 
foam-capped summit was already 
lost beyond sight, and from the sky 
there began to fall a steady shower 
of rain, the drops abnormally large 
like those which prelude a thunder- 
storm. Not all the water that was 
being lifted from Thalassa's single 
ocean was reaching its distant goal ; 
some was escaping from the power 
that controlled it and was falling 
back from the edge of space. 

Slowly the watching crowd 
drifted away, impressed but not in 
the least over-awed by what it had 
seen. Man had been able to control 
gravity for half a thousand years, 
and this trick — spectacular though 
it was — could not be compared 
with the miracle of hurling a great 
star-ship from sun to sun at little 
short of the speed of light. 

The Earthmen were now walking 
back towards their machine, clearly 
satisfied with what they had done. 
Even at this distance, one could 
see that they were happy and re- 
laxed, perhaps for the first time 
since they had reached Thalassa. 
The water to rebuild the Magellan's 
shield was on its way out into space, 
to be shaped and frozen by the 
other strange forces that these men 


had made their servants. In a few 
days, they would be ready to leave, 
their great interstellar ark as good 
as new. 

Even until this minute, Lora had 
hoped that they might fail. There 
was nothing left of that hope now, 
as she watched the man-made 
waterspout lift its burden from the 
sea. Sometimes it wavered slightly, 
its base shifting back and forth as 
if at the balance point between 
immense and invisible forces. But it 
was fully under control, and it 
would do the task that had been set 
for it. That meant only one thing 
to her; soon she must say good-bye 
to Leon. 

SHE WALKED slowly towards 
the distant group of Earthmen, 
marshalling her thoughts and trying 
to subdue her emotions. Presently 
Leon broke away from his friends 
and came to meet her; relief and 
happiness were written across his 
face, but they faded swiftly when 
he saw Lora's expression. 

"Well," he said lamely, almost 
like a schoolboy caught in some 
crime, "we've done it." 

"And now — how long will you be 

He scuffed nervously at the sand, 
unable to meet her eye. 

"Oh, about three days — perhaps 

She tried to assimiliate the words 
calmly; after all, she had expected 
them — this was nothing new. But 
she failed completely, and it was 
as well that there was no one near 

"You can't leave!" she cried 
desperately. "Stay here!" 


Leon took her hands gently, then 
murmured: "No, Lora — this isn't 
my world; I would never fit into it. 
Half my life's been spent training 
for the work I'm doing now; I 
could never be happy here, where 
there aren't any more frontiers. In 
a month, I should die of boredom." 

"Then take me with you!" 

"You don't really mean that." 

"But I do!" 

"You only think so; you'd be 
more out of place in my world 
than I would be in yours." 

"I could learn — there would be 
plenty of things I could do. As long 
as we could stay together!" 

He held her at arm's length, 
looking into her eyes. They mir- 
rored sorrow, and also sincerity. 
She really believed what she was 
saying, Leon told himself. For the 
first time, his conscience smote him. 
He had forgotten — or chosen not to 
remember — how much more serious 
these things could be to a woman 
than to a man. 

He had never intended to hurt 
Lora; he was very fond of her, and 
would remember her with affection 
all his life. Now he was discovering, 
as so many men before him had 
done, that it was not always easy 
to say good-bye. 

There was only one thing to do. 
Better a short, sharp pain than a 
long bitterness. 

"Come with me, Lora," he said. 
"I have something to show you." 

They did not speak as Leon led 
the way to the clearing which the 
Earthmen used as a landing ground. 
It was Uttered with pieces of enig- 
matic equipment, some of them 
being repacked while others were 


being left behind for the islanders 
to use as they pleased. Several of 
the gravity-scooters were parked in 
the shade beneath the palms; even 
when not in use they spumed con- 
tact with the ground, and hovered 
a couple of feet above the grass. 

But it was not these that Leon 
was interested in; he walked pur- 
posefully towards the gleaming oval 
that dominated the clearing, and 
spoke a few words to the engineer 
who was standing beside it. There 
was a short argument; then the 
other capitulated with fairly good 

"It's not fully loaded," Leon ex- 
plained as he helped Lora up the 
ramp. "But we're going just the 
same. The other shuttle will be 
down in half an hour, anyway." 

Already Lora was in a world she 
had never known before — a world 
of technology in which the most 
brilliant engineer or scientist of 
Thalassa would be lost. The island 
possessed all the machines it needed 
for its life and happiness; this was 
something utterly beyond its ken. 
Lora had once seen the great com- 
puter that was the virtual ruler of 
her people and with those decisions 
they disagreed not once in a genera- 
tion. That giant brain was huge 
and complex, but there was an awe- 
some simplicity about this machine 
that impressed even her non-tech- 
nical mind. When Leon sat down at 
the absurdly small control board, 
his hands seemed to do nothing ex- 
cept rest lightly upon it. 

Yet the walls were suddenly 
transparent — and there was Thal- 
assa, already shrinking below them. 
There had been no sense of move- 


ment, no whisper of sound, yet the 
island was dwindling even as she 
watched. The misty edge of the 
world, a great bow dividing the 
blue of the sea from the velvet 
blackness of space, was becoming 
more curved with every passing 

"Look," said Leon, pointing to 
the stars. 

The ship was already visible, 
and Lora felt a sudden sense of 
disappointment that it was so small. 
She could see a cluster of port- 
holes around the center section, but 
there appeared to be no other 
breaks anywhere on the vessel's 
squat and angular hull. 

The illusion lasted only for a 
second. Then, with a shock of in- 
credulity that made her senses reel 
and brought her to the edge of 
vertigo, she saw how hopelessly 
her eyes had been deceived. Those 
were no port-holes; the ship was 
still miles away. What she was see- 
ing were the gaping hatches through 
which the ferries could shuttle on 
their journeys between the star-ship 
and Thalassa. 

There is no sense of perspective 
in space, where all objects are still 
clear and sharp whatever their dis- 
tance. Even when the hull of the 
ship was looming up beside them, 
an endless curving wall of metal 
eclipsing the stars, there was still 
no real way of judging its size. She 
could only guess that it must be at 
least two miles in length. 

The ferry berthed itself, as far as 
Lora could judge, without any in- 
tervention from Leon. She followed 
him out of the little control rooms, 
and when the airlock opened she 


was surprised to discover that they 
could step directly into one of the 
star-ship's passageways. 

THEY WERE standing in a long 
tubular corridor that stretched 
in either direction as far as the 
eye could see. The floor was moving 
beneath their feet, carrying them 
along swiftly and effortlessly — yet 
strangely enough Lora had felt no 
sudden jerk as she stepped on to 
the conveyer that was now sweep- 
ing her through the ship. One more 
mystery she would never explain; 
there would be many others before 
Leon had finished showing her the 

It was an hour before they met 
another human being. In that time 
they must have travelled miles, 
sometimes being carried along by 
the moving corridors, sometimes 
being lifted up long tubes within 
which gravity had been abolished. 
It was obvious what Leon was try- 
ing to do; he was attempting to 
give her some faint impression of 
the size and complexity of this 
artificial world which had been 
built to carry the seeds of a new 
civilization to the stars. 

The engine-room alone, with its 
sleeping, shrouded monsters of 
metal and crystal, must have been 
half a mile in length. As they stood 
on the balcony high above that vast 
arena of latent power, Leon said 
proudly, and perhaps not altogether 
accurately: "These are mine." Lora 
looked down on the huge and 
meaningless shapes that had carried 
Leon to her across the light-years, 
and did not know whether to bless 


them for what they had brought, or 
to curse them for what they might 
soon take away. 

They sped swiftly through caver- 
nous holds, packed with all the 
machines and instruments and 
stores needed to mould a virgin 
planet and to make it a fit home 
for humanity. There were miles 
upon miles of storage racks, holding 
in tape or microfilm or still more 
compact form the cultural heritage 
of mankind. Here they met a group 
of experts from Thalassa, looking 
rather dazed, trying to decide how 
much of all this wealth they could 
loot in the few hours left to them. 

Had her own ancestors, Lora 
wondered, been so well equipped 
when they crossed space? She 
doubted it; their ship had been far 
smaller, and Earth must have 
learned much about the techniques 
of interstellar colonization in the 
centuries since Thalassa was opened 
up. When the Magellan's sleeping 
travellers reached their new home, 
their success was assured if their 
spirit matched their material re- 

Now they had come to a great 
white door which slid silently open 
as they approached to reveal — of 
all incongruous things to find inside 
a spaceship — a cloakroom in which 
lines of heavy furs hung from pegs. 
Leon helped Lora to climb into one 
of these, then selected another for 
himself. She followed him uncom- 
prehendingly as he walked towards 
a circle of frosted glass set in the 
floor; then he turned to her and 
said: "There's no gravity where 
we're going now, so keep close to 
me and do exactly as I say." 


The crystal trap-door swung up- 
wards like an opening watch-glass, 
and out of the depths swirled a 
blast of cold such as Lora had never 
imagined, still less experienced. 
Thin wisps of moisture condensed 
in the freezing air, dancing round 
her like ghosts. She looked at Leon 
as if to say "Surely you don't ex- 
pect me to go down there!" 

He took her arm reassuringly 
and said "Don't worry — you won't 
notice the cold after a few minutes. 
I'll go first." 

The trapdoor swallowed him; 
Lora hesitated for a moment, then 
lowered herself after him. Lowered? 
No; that was the wrong word; up 
and down no longer existed here. 
Gravity had been abolished — she 
was floating without weight in this 
frigid, snow-white universe. All 
round her were glittering honey- 
combs of glass, forming thousands 
and tens of thousands of hexagonal 
cells. They were laced together with 
clusters of pipes and bundles of 
wiring, and each cell was large 
enough to hold a human being. 

And each cell did. There they 
were, sleeping all around her, the 
thousands of colonists to whom 
Earth was still, in literal truth, a 
memory of yesterday. What were 
they dreaming, less than half-way 
through their three-hundred-year 
sleep? Did the brain dream at all, 
in this dim no-man's-land between 
life and death? 

Narrow, endless belts, fitted with 
hand-holds every few feet, were 
strung across the face of the honey- 
comb. Leon grabbed one of these, 
and let it tow them swiftly past 
the great mosaic of hexagons. 


Twice they changed direction, 
switching from one belt to another, 
until at last they must have been 
a full quarter of a mile from the 
point where they had started. 

Leon released his grip, and they 
drifted to rest beside one cell no 
difTerent from all the myriads of 
others. But as Lora saw the expres- 
sion on Leon's face, she knew why 
he had brought her here, and knew 
that her battle was already lost. 

The girl floating in her crystal 
coffin had a face that was not beau- 
tiful, but was full of character and 
intelligence. Even in this centuries- 
long repose, it showed determina- 
tion and resourcefulness. It was the 
face of a pioneer, of a frontiers- 
woman who could stand beside her 
mate and help him wield whatever 
fabulous tools of science might be 
needed to build a new Earth be- 
yond the stars. 

For a long time, unconscious of 
the cold, Lora stared down at the 
sleeping rival who would never 
know of her existence. Had any 
love, she wondered, in the whole 
history of the world, ever ended in 
so strange a place? 

At last she spoke, her voice 
hushed as if she feared to wake 
these slumbering legions. 

"Is she your wife?" 

Leon nodded. 

"I'm sorry, Lora. I never intend- 
ed to hurt you . . ." 

"It doesn't matter now. It was 
my fault too." She paused, and 
looked more closely at the sleeping 
woman. "And your child as well?" 

"Yes ; it will be born three months 
after we land." 

How strange to think of a gesta- 


don that would last three hundred 
years! Yet it was all part of the 
same pattern; and that, she knew 
now, was a pattern that had no 
place for her. 

These patient multitudes would 
haunt her dreams for the rest of 
her life; as the crystal trapdoor 
closed behind her, and warmth 
crept back into her body, she 
wished that the cold that had en- 
tered her heart, could be so easily 
dispelled. One day, perhaps, it 
would be ; but many days and many 
lonely nights must pass ere that 
time came. 

She remembered nothing of the 
journey back through the labyrinth 
of corridors and echoing chambers; 
it took her by surprise when she 
found herself once more in the 
cabin of the little ferry ship that 
had brought them up from Thal- 
assa. Leon walked over to the con- 
trols, made a few adjustments, but 
did not sit down. 

"Good-bye, Lora," he said. "My 
work is done. It would be better if 
I stayed here." He took her hands 
in his ; and now, in the last moment 
they would ever have together, 
there were no words that she could 
say. She could not even see his face 
for the tears that blurred her vision. 

His hands tightened once, then 
relaxed. He gave a strangled sob, 
and when she could see clearly 
again, the cabin was empty. 

A long time later a smooth, syn- 
thetic voice announced from the 
control board "We have landed; 
please leave by the forward air- 
lock." The pattern of opening doors 
guided her steps, and presently she 
was looking out into the busy 


clearing she had left a lifetime ago. 

A small crowd was watching the 
ship with attentive interest, as if 
it had not landed a hundred times 
before. For a moment she did not 
understand the reason; then Clyde's 
voice roared "Where is he? I've 
had enough of this!" 

In a couple of bounds he was up 
the ramp and had gripped her 
roughly by the arm. "Tell him to 
come out like a man!" 

Lora shook her head listlessly. 

"He's not here," she answered. 
"I've said good-bye to him. I'll 
never see him again." 

Clyde stared at her disbelieving- 
ly, then saw that she spoke the 
truth. In the same moment she 
crumbled into his arms, sobbing as 
if her heart would break. As she 
collapsed, his anger too collapsed 
within him, and all that he had in- 
tended to say to her vanished from 
his mind. She belonged to him 
again; there was nothing else that 
mattered now. 

FOR ALMOST fifty hours the 
geyser roared off the coast of 
Thalassa until its work was done. 
All the island watched, through 
the lenses of the television cameras, 
the shaping of the iceberg that 
would rise ahead of the Magellan 
on her way to the stars. Might the 
new shield serve her better, prayed 
all who watched, than the one she 
had brought from Earth. The great 
cone of ice was itself protected, 
during these few hours while it 
was close to Thalassa's sun, by a 
paper-thin screen of polished metal 
that kept it always in shadow. The 


sun-shade would be left behind as 
soon as the journey began; it could 
not be needed in the interstellar 

The last day came and went; 
Lora's heart was not the only one 
to feel sadness now as the sun went 
down and the men from Earth 
made their final farewells to the 
world they would never forget — 
and which their sleeping friends 
would never remember. In the 
same swift silence with which it had 
first landed, the gleaming egg lifted 
from the clearing, dipped for a 
moment in salutation above the 
village, and climbed back into its 
natural element. Then Thalassa 

The night was shattered by a 
soundless detonation of light. A 
point of pulsing brilliance no larger 
than a single star had banished all 
the hosts of heaven and now domin- 
ated the sky, far outshining the pale 
disc of Selene and casting sharp- 
edged shadows on the ground, 
shadows that moved even as one 
watched. Up there on the borders 
of space the fires that powered the 
suns themselves were burning now, 
preparing to drive the star-ship out 
into immensity on the last leg of 
her interrupted journey. 

Dry-eyed, Lora watched the 
silent glory on which half her heart 
was riding out towards the stars. 
She was drained of emotion now; 
if she had tears, they would come 

Was Leon already sleeping, or 
was he looking back upon Thalassa, 
thinking of what might have been? 
Asleep or waking, what did it mat- 
ter now . . . 

She felt Clyde's arms close 
around her, and welcomed their 
comfort against the loneliness of 
space. This was where she be- 
longed; her heart would not stray 
again. Goodbye, Leon — may you be 
happy on that jar world which you 
and your children will conquer for 
mankind. But think of me some- 
times, two hundred years behind 
you on the road to Earth. 

She clung fiercely to the strong 
arms that enfolded her, and felt 
against her cheek the beating of 
Clyde's heart — the heart that be- 
longed to her and which she would 
never spurn again. Out of the 
silence of the night there came a 
sudden, long-drawn sigh from the 
watching thousands, and she knew 
that the Magellan had sunk out 
of sight below the edge of the 
world. END 

In science the man of real genius is the man who invents k new niethod. 
The notable discoveries are often made by his successors, who can apply 
the method with fresh vigor, imimpaired by the previous labor of 
perfecting it. —Bertrand Russell 

At the moment, humanity is rather like an irresponsible child who has 
been presented with a set of machine tools, a box of matches and a supply 
of dynamite. —Julien Huxley 




There she was — mysterious but beautiful. 

and for the taking. Where the ship came from, no one asked. 

As for where she was going, no one . . . 

WE WERE a poverty-stricken 
bunch on Dunsinane, although 
this was no fault of our own. Ever 
since its founding, the colony had 
been unlucky. To begin with, there 
were metals in quantities sufficient 
only for local use. There were no 
indigenous flora and fauna which, 
considered as foodstuffs, would be 
so exotic as to command fancy 
prices in the luxury markets 
throughout the Galaxy. Then it 
had taken a long while, too long a 

while, for the Terran animals and 
plants, introduced when the colony 
was started, to gain a foothold — 
the original ecological survey had 
been criminally haphazard and all 
manner of viruses, moulds and rusts 
had been overlooked. Then there 
were the earthquakes ... 

And the droughts . . . 

And the floods . . . 

All in all, we were a poverty- 
stricken bunch, and the onerous 
freight charges that we had -to pay 


Illustrated by Virgil Finlay 

on all goods shipped to and from 
Dunsinane kept us so. We had to 
export in order to pay for imported 
essentials — and by the time the 
Interstellar Transport Commission 
had taken its whack there were few 
essentials that we could afford. 
The rest we had to do without. 

We were in no mood, therefore, 
to look in the mouth of any gift 
horse sent trotting our way by 

The Gift Horse — that's what we 
called her. Ogilvy, the Headmaster 
of the Port Macbeth Academy, 
wanted her called Birnam Wood — 
after all, he argued, she had come 
to Dunsinane. But Gift Horse she 
was dubbed almost from the very 
beginning, and the name stuck. 
Governor Smith broke a bottle of 
our very inferior whiskey over her 
bows when she was ready for Space 
after her refit, and Gift Horse was 
what he officially christened her. 

I wasn't the first one to see her, 
but I was the second. 

I was working late in my office 
at the spaceport that night — the 
Commission's freighter, Epsilon 
Lyrae, which we nicknamed "Epi- 
leptic Liar", had pushed off that 
afternoon for Elsinore and had left 
behind more paperwork than cargo. 
I needn't have worked late — her 
next call wasn't due for all of six 
weeks — but I wanted to have the 
following day free for work on my 
small holding. That was the way 
all of us on Dunsinane lived. We 
did the clerical work necessary to 
hold the fabric of civilization to- 
gether, but in all the time that we 
could spare from such essentially 
unproductive labors we were far- 


mers and artisans. 

Anyhow, I was working late, and 
cursing the Purser of the "Epileptic 
Liar" for having not done all the 
things that he should have done to 
make my task easier. I was a Purser 
myself until I met Judith — she was 
a hostess in the Alpha Class liner 
in which I was serving — and de- 
cided that life in deep space was 
no life for a civilized man and 
woman. The same can be said for 
life in the Shakespearean colonies 
— ^but we didn't know that when 
we made our decision to give the 
interstellar ships away and become 

I was still wrestling with the 
manifest — it didn't check at all with 
the bills of lading — ^when the buz- 
zer of my desk 'phone sounded. I 
flipped the switch over and the 
little screen lit up. I saw the fat, 
usually placid face of Bill Higgins, 
our chief radar operator. It was the 
first time that I'd ever seen him 

"Ken," he said, "come to the 
radar office, will you?" 

"What for?" I asked. 

"We've acquired a satellite^' he 

"Must be the "Epileptic Liar" 
come back for something. Perhaps 
her Purser's decided that he'd better 
finish all the paper work he wished 
on to me." 

"It's not the "Epileptic Liar. I 
tracked her until she went into 
interstellar drive. She's well on her 
way to Port Hamlet. Come over. 
Ken. I want a witness before I 
start raising the alarm." 

I wasn't sorry to leave my papers. 
I walked out of the office, into 


the open air. I looked up at the 
sky, half expecting to see something. 
There was nothing visible to the 
naked eye, of course. All that I 
could see were the sparse stars and 
the great gulfs of emptiness between 
them — at this time of the year the 
huge, luminescent lens that was the 
Galaxy set shortly after the sun. 
The absence of stars made the night 
— although this was only subjective 
— ^very cold as well as very dark. 

It was dark and cold in the radar 
office, too. Only one screen was in 
use, and the bulky figure of Bill 
Higgins was hunched over it. He 
stood up as I approached. 

"Do you see it?" he asked, mov- 
ing to one side. 

I looked at the screen. I saw a 
little blob of light that could have 
been anything. 

"There's something there," I 

"Too right there's something 
there. Range one thousand miles — 
straight up. And it's in a twenty 
four orbit over Port Macbeth." 

"It must be a ship," I said 

"Yes, but what ship? I've called 
them on every frequency known to 
man, and a few that aren't, and 
got no reply." 

"It still could be Epsilon Lyrae. 
Whatever accident forced her to 
return could have put her radio out 
of kilter. What about psionic com- 
munications? Have you called 
Templar out?" 

Like most radio specialists Hig- 
gins had nothing but contempt for 
the so-called psionic radio and for 
the trained telepaths who were its 
operators. He let me go to the 


'phone and dial Templar's number. 
He let me explain to Templar 
what it was all about. He told me, 
when Templar was on the way, to 
keep the Psionic Communications 
Officer out of the radar office. 

I met Templar outside. We went 
straight to his own office. The sight 
of the big organic brain — grown 
from tissue from the brain of a dog 
it was — ^gave me, as it always did, 
the creeps. Templar patted the 
glass dome and said, "Hello, Fido 
old boy." He did all the things 
necessary to bring the organic am- 
plifier from sleep into wakefulness, 
then put on the elaborate headset 
and relaxed in the deep armchair. 

I sat in a less comfortable chair 
and waited. I listened to the sigh 
and gurgle of the pumps as they 
kept Fido supplied with oxygen and 
nutrient solution. I watched Temp- 
lar's thin lips moving as he muttered 
something. I strained my ears to 
hear what it was. All I heard was, 
"Calling . . . Calling . . ." 

"Any reply?" I asked. 

"No. There's . . . something 
there. But it's faint, vague. The 
ghost of a thought . . ." 

"Are you sure it's not Epsilon 

"She would answer me at once." 

"Not if her operators are dead 
or unconscious." 

"How does Epsilon Lyrae bear 
from here?" he asked me. 

I got Higgins on the 'phone, 
asked him for an estimated line of 
bearing. Templar swivelled his 
chair— it was mounted on a turn- 
table — to my directions. I saw his 
lips moving again. 

"Epsilon Lyrae answering," he 


said, after a brief pause. 

"So it's not them hanging over 
the spaceport?" 

"No. They want to know what 
we want." 

"Tell them you're testing," I said. 
"Just testing." 

"What about the . . . the what- 
ever it is?" 

"Don't say anything about it. It's 
our business, not the Commission's." 

Somehow, the thought of salvage 
had already flickered across my 
mind. We, the Colony, could use 
the proceeds of salvage, and it 
would have been foolish to throw 
our prize, whatever it was, into the 
laps of the Commission and the 
crew of the Epileptic Liar. 

I went back to see Bill Higgins, 
and we decided it was time we got 
old Captain Sorensen, the Port 
Master, out of his bed. 

McDuflF Observatory turned 
its big reflector on to the azimuth 
and altitude given the astronomers 
by Higgins, and confirmed our sus- 
picions that the mysterious object 
was a spaceship. They couldn't tell 
us much more. They could tell us 
no more than that the vessel seemed 
to be midway in size between one 
of the Commission's Gamma Class 
and one of the Delta Class. They 
didn't think that she was either a 
Huqua or a Shaara ship, but they 
couldn't be sure. 

Was the ship manned? That was 
the problem. 

She must have approached Dun- 
sinane under interstellar drive, re- 
verting to normal space-time when 


almost within the outer atmosphere. 
She must have used interplanetary 
drive to establish herself in her 
orbit — although, unluckily, nobody 
happened to be looking at the sky 
at the time. On the other hand, she 
answered no signals whatsoever — 
neither radio, psionic radio nor 

Mid morning, there was a con- 
ference in Captain Sorensen's office. 
Governor Smith was there, together 
with a half dozen members of the 
Legislative Council. Higgins was 
there. Templar was there. I was 

It was Sorensen who kept harp- 
ing on the. fact that the strange 
ship was probably in distress, and 
that we should endeavor to go to 
her aid. He pointed out that we 
had one barely spaceworthy vessel 
at our disposal — a Spurling Six 
with rocket drive instead of the 
more usual jets. He said that even 
though he had been planetbound 
for years he was still capable of 
simple piloting. There were three 
spacesuits in the spaceport stores, 
and if two volunteers would step 
forward . . . 

Everybody stepped forward, in- 
cluding the Governor. 

Sorensen decided, wisely, to make 
his choice of companions from 
among those who had several years 
of deep space experience, which 
disqualified most of those present. 
Higgins, Templar and myself— ex- 
spacemen all — matched coins to see 
which of us would have the privi- 
lege. On the first attempt we all 
turned up heads. On the second 
attempt Higgins and I had heads, 
Templar's coin showed a tail. 


The Port Master — and he had no 
shortage of willing helpers — organ- 
ized the readying of the Spurling 
for space. Higgins and I went to 
the stores for the spacesuits. They 
hadn't been used for years. Luckily 
we were able to get full oxygen 
cylinders from the spaceport en- 
gineering shop. We were able, after 
a struggle with our memories, to 
go through the full testing pro- 

While all this was happening I 
had, of course, found time to keep 
in touch with Judith. I wasn't sur- 
prised when Higgins and I— fully 
suited except for our helmets — 
walked to where the vicious looking 
little Spurling was standing on the 
apron to see her among the crowd 
around the aircraft. 

She said, "Be careful, Ken." 

"You were shipmates with me 
long enough to know that I'm al- 
ways careful," I told her. 

"That was in a real ship," she 
said, "not a garbage can with 

Sorensen glared at her from un- 
der his bushy white brows. 

"If you've quite finished, Mr. 
Chambers, you might help me on 
with my suit." 

I kissed Judith hastily. With Bill 
Higgins assisting, I eased the bulk 
of the Port Master into his space- 
suit. The three of us put our hel- 
mets on — the Spurling's cabin was 
supposed to be hermetically sealed, 
but it wouldn't have held small 
coal. In any case, the inner door of 
the little airlock had been missing 
for quite some time. 

Bill and I climbed into the Spur- 
ling first, took our seats at the rear 


of the cabin. Captain Sorensen fol- 
lowed us, wedged himself into the 
pilot's chair. He ran his heavy 
gloves over the controls, satisfied 
himself that they would not afTect 
his manual dexterity too badly. 
Outside we could see the Spaceport 
Police clearing the field for our 

The Old Man took us up in a 
hurry. He had to, to conserve fuel 
— the Spurling's fuel tanks had 
never been designed for actual spa- 
tial maneuvering. He didn't bother 
with the turret drive, he just turned 
her until her nose was pointing 
straight up. In seconds we were 
through the thin, high cirrus and 
the sky had changed from blue to 
black. It seemed only a few more 
seconds, although it must have been 
longer, when the drive was cut and 
we were falling weightless around 
Dunsinane, in a rough approxima- 
tion of a twenty four hour orbit. 
The longest part of the whole busi- 
ness was the visual search for the 
strange ship. We found her at last, 
gleaming like a star in the sunlight. 
My body ached as Sorensen nudged 
us towards her with short, vicious 
stabs of rocket blast. It had been 
so long since I had been in Space 
that the first acceleration had hit 
me badly. 

We matched velocities with the 
stranger. We looked at her. She was 
a big brute, bigger than the old 
"Epileptic Liar." She had the vanes 
and the slender, needle prowed 
form that showed that she had been 
designed for landings and blastings 
oflF in an atmosphere. Her shell 
plating — at least, to my unpracticed 
eye — ^was in good condition, bore 


none of the pitting and scarring 
that must occur during years spent 
in allegedly empty Space, with 
descents and take-offs through 
planetary atmospheres. 

There was the usual greenhouse 
in the nose. There was a name just 
below the big windows — but it was 
in no script with which we were 
familiar. It wasn't in the Terran 
alphabet, neither was it in either 
Huqua or Shaara. It was like some 
of the more abstruse symbols used 
by the mathematicians. 

There was an airlock where one 
would expect an airlock to be — 
about two thirds of the way be- 
tween nose and tail. The big, round 
door was open. I shivered. It looked 
too much like an open mouth, 
gaping wide to swallow us. I said 
as much. 

Sorensen laughed, making my 
helmet 'phones crackle. 

"So it does," he said. "So it does. 
But we mustn't look a gift horse in 
the mouth." 

"A gift horse, Captain?" asked 

"Yes — a gift horse. A spaceship's 
just what we've been wanting for 
years — and now we've got one." 

"But she's not ours," I said. "And 
what about her crew?" 

"Damn the crew," he replied. 
"Oh, I'm sorry for them, something 
must have happened to them — - 
didn't you notice that both airlock 
doors were open? That ship's de- 

"All artifacts of Extra-Terran 
origin are the property of the In- 
stitute of Extra-Terran Arts and 
Sciences," I reminded him. 

"Like hell! This is a ship, man — 


not a bloody artifact. I don't know 
how she got here, or from where, 
but we can use her. We'll be able 
to run the Commission out of the 
Shakespearean Sector. We'll do all 
the fetching and carrying between 
Dunsinane and Elsinore and Venice 
and Illyria and Philippi — at freight 
rates that our fellow colonists can 
afford to pay." 

"But she can't be deserted," said 

"There's only one way to find 
out," said the Old Man. 

He was the first across from the 
Spurling to the ship, using the little 
rocket unit that was part of his 
suit equipment. He paid out his 
lifeline as he went. Once inside the 
airlock he pulled the Spurling to 
the ship. She crumpled her star- 
board wing rather badly coming 
alongside, and I remember wonder- 
ing how we would ever get back to 
Dunsinane — and Dunsinane was 
such a long way down. I looked 
at the cloudy, ocean girdled globe 
and shuddered. 

We made the Spurling fast along- 
side the stranger. Then Bill and I 
joined Sorensen in the airlock. It 
was like the airlocks of all tlie ships 
that we had ever known — but there 
is, after all, only one way to make 
an efficient airlock. 

By the light of our torches we 
prowled through the empty alley- 
ways, the deserted compartments. 
The more we saw the more we were 
convinced that the owners — or the 
late owners- — of the vessel had been 
an essentially humanoid race. Ev- 
erything was to the right scale. The 
chairs in the Control Room could 
have been designed for human 


bodies. The controls themselves 
must have been designed for some- 
thing very like the human hand. 

Sorensen made a careful inspec- 
tion of the controls. 

"This," he said, "must be the 
pilot's chair. The big, red key must 
actuate the main drive, the smaller 
ones the auxiliaries. That screen 
will be a radar altuneter, and the- 
other one a drift indicator. These 
could be the gyroscope controls . . ." 

He prodded a button with a 
thick, gloved forefinger. He swore 
as a low humming sound, rising 
rapidly to a whine, was audible, 
transmitted to us through the metal 
of hull and decks, and bulkheads, 
through the metallic soles of our 
boots. Outside the big ports the 
stars were wheeling in slow proces- 
sion, the stars and the huge lens 
of the Galaxy. 

Sorensen prodded other buttons, 
frantically. The whining stopped, 
but the ship was still swinging. 

"There must be power in the 
batteries still," he muttered. 

"Why not?" asked Higgins. "And 
why shouldn't the Pile be alive, 
too? Everything must have been 
working for her to get here. There's 
no reason to suppose that nothing 
is working is now." 

By the time that we had decided 
that everything was working, the 
insides of our suits were clammy 
and foul, and we were tired and 
hungry. We had tried, using our 
suit radios, to get in touch with 
Port Macbeth, but without success. 
I was beginning to worry about 
Judith, knowing that she would be 
worried about me. 

Even so, results were encour- 


aging. None of us was an engineer, 
but we knew enough to be able to 
tell that both Drives, Interplanetary 
and Interstellar, were functioning. 
The Pile was alive, and there was 
ample propellant, if the meters on 
the tanks, with their alien numerals, 
said what we thought they said. But 
we had ample evidence to indicate 
that the builders of the ship were 
a right handed race. The Inter- 
stellar Drive was as near to a Mann- 
schenn Unit as made no difference. 
Obviously, with its complexity of 
spinning wheels, it could work only 
on the principle of Temporal Pre- 
cession. The tools in the engine- 
room stores were all understand- 
able, remarkably un-alien in their 
construction and design. 

The tools, as a matter of fact, 
were the only items of equipment 
in the ship. The other storerooms 
were all empty, looked as though 
they had never been used. The 
cabins were empty. There were no 
books or papers of any kind. The 
galley — there was nothing else that 
it could have been — bore no evi- 
dence that anybody had ever 
cooked anything in the electronic 

We returned to the Control 
Room for a conference. 

"This is the situation," said 
Sorensen. "We could try to 
straighten the Spurling's starboard 
wing — but, even if we did, it'll be 
badly weakened. I'd not guarantee 
a safe landing. On the other hand 
— I feel quite sure that I could set 
this ship down in one piece. All we 
have to do is to start the generators 
— I'm enough of an engineer for 
that — and get the controls, all the 


controls, alive. Then I shall require 
at least an hour's playing around 
with her to get the feel of her. Then 
I take her down." 

"But we can't notify Port Mac- 
beth," objected Bill. 

"Port Macbeth, to all practical 
intents and purposes, is in this 
Control Room, Mr. Higgins. Be- 
sides, everybody in Dunsinane will 
be staring at the sky, and the Obser- 
vatory will see what's happening 
soon enough. Come on, now — ^we'll 
get the jennies started." 

So we started the jennies, and 
we cast the poor little Spurling 
adrift. We found the controls for 
the airlock doors and we, as Cap- 
tain Sorensen had put it, played 
around for all of an hour. By this 
time the air regenerating units of 
our suits were beginning to feel 
the strain, and so were we. By this 
time we were ceasing to worry what 
sort of landing we could make. As 
far as I was concerned all that I 
wanted was to get the helmet off 
my head and get a lungful of good, 
clean air. All that I wanted was to 
feel the solid ground of Dunsinane 
under my feet. All that I wanted 
was a surcease from the gut wrench- 
ing accelerations and decelera- 
tions. I wanted to see Judith again 
too — but not, I must confess, with 
such urgency. 

We fell, at last, through the 
evening sky, the ship almost obe- 
dient to the touch of Sorensen's 
big hands, with Bill and I prompt- 
ing his memory as to which control 
was which, which symbol meant 
what. We fell, they told us, like a 
falling star, the glare of our rockets 
intolerably bright in the evening 


sky. Even so, we hit the apron 
almost as lightly as the proverbial 
falling feather — and stumbled from 
the ship to face the levelled rifles 
of the Spaceport Police and the 
volunteers, who dropped their 
rifles to cheer when we threw off 
our helmets and were recognized. 

It was a homecoming that made 
the danger and hardship worth- 

THERE WAS little time to rest, 
almost no time to tell Judith 
of our discoveries. A meeting of the 
Council was convened for that very 
night and, of course, Sorensen, Hig- 
gins and myself had to appear be- 
fore it to say our pieces. The de- 
cision of the Council was unani- 
mous. After all, we were a poverty- 
stricken bunch on Dunsinane and 
ethics, to us, were an expensive 
luxury, and the laws and rules made 
by somebody on Earth, parsecs 
away, were made, we all felt, to 
be ignored. 

We didn't know where the ship 
had come from — for all we knew 
she could have drifted from some 
other Galaxy. We didn't know what 
had happened to her crew — it 
seemed to us that she had never 
been manned. We didn't know of 
what value she would be to the In- 
stitute of Extra-Terran Arts and 
Sciences — although we could make 
a conservative guess — but we did 
know, only too well, of what value 
she would be to us. What the In- 
stitute never knew would never 
worry its corporate mind. 

Other colonies, other planet 
states throughout the Galaxy owned 


and operated their own ships, but 
they had been rich enough to buy 
them. We weren't rich, and never 
would be rich, and we could not 
afford to look our big, beautiful, 
shining gift horse in the mouth. 
That is what we decided to call her 
- — the Gift Horse. The meeting fin- 
ished with all of us drinking toasts 
to the beast in New Caledon whis- 
key — it was far better than our own 
— that Governor Smith had pro- 
duced for the occasion. 

That was the end of the talking; 
the next day the work started. Our 
main trouble was that we had so 
very few ex-spacemen among us. 
There was Captain Sorensen, of 
course, and there were Higgins and 
Templar, the two communications 
specialists. There was Judith — -al- 
though she had sailed only as host- 
ess, she had her Catering Officer's 
Certificate. There was Harry Haw- 
kins, who ran the Port Macbeth 
engineering shop. He had been a 
Junior Engineer^ — reaction — in the 
Commission's ships and had an In- 
terstellar Endorsement to his Sec- 
ond's ticket. He knew nothing of the 
theory of the Mannschenn Drive — - 
all that he knew was how to trace 
faults and check circuits. 

We found a Doctor Calver 
among the staff of the Observatory 
who thought that he would be able 
to handle interstellar navigation. 
We found a professor of biology at 
the Academy who was confident 
that he would be able to look after 
the yeasts and algae upon which 
we should depend both for food 
and atmosphere. We found a few 
bright boys from the airlines who 
thought that they should have been 


spacemen, not airmen, and who, 
surprisingly enough, were willing to 

Sorensen, of course, was to be 
Master, and Hawkins the engineer, 
handling both reaction and inter- 
stellar drives. Calver was to be navi- 
gator and Hawkins' assistant so far 
as the Mannschenn Drive was con- 
cerned. Mackay, the professor from 
the Academy, was elected Bio- 
Chemist. Higgins and Templar 
were to be communications officers. 
I was the obvious choice for Purser, 
just as Judith was for the position 
of Chief Steward. We had no 
trouble in filling the other, less 
specialized vacancies. 

Meanwhile, the work of fitting 
out the Gift Horse continued day 
and night. We had no time to lose. 
We wanted to get her out into 
Space before the Commission's 
Epsilon Lyrae came bumbling along 
on her appointed rounds. We 
wanted to carry our first load from 
Dunsinane to Elsinore, from Elsi- 
nore to Illyria, to Venice and Phil- 
ippi so that the opposition would 
be greeted with empty warehouses 
and a paucity of customers. We 
didn't know where she had come 
from, and by this time we didn't 
care. She was our ship. 

She was, to a surprising extent, 
only the shell of a ship — and thai 
made our task so much easier. We 
were able to install the algae tanks 
and yeast vats in positions to suit 
ourselves and not the whim of 
some Commission draughtsman 
huddled over his drawing board. 
Not that there were many whims 
in the design of the Commission's 
ships — it was just that such-and- 


such had always lived in so-and-so 
space, and always would live there, 
the convenience of her crew and 
passengers notwithstanding. 

The airline pilots took her life- 
boats — the fact that they were still 
in their nests was one of the puz- 
zling features — and played with 
them outside the atmosphere and 
got the feel of handling a ship in a 
vacuum. The rest of us were planet- 
bound — but it was only temporary. 
We pushed on with our tasks, and 
it was a day ahead of schedule that 
the Governor, perched precariously 
a-top the scaflFolding, broke the 
ceremonial bottle of whiskey over 
Gift Horse's bow. 

It was two days later that we 
were ready for the blast-off. We 
were a full ship insofar as the 
passenger accommodation was con- 
cerned. Most of our novice space- 
men were married, and it had been 
decided to give their wives a holi- 
day jaunt around the other worlds 
of the Shakespearean Sector. Soren- 
sen didn't like it, complaining that 
enough things could go wrong on a 
maiden voyage without having a 
parcel of women cluttering up the 
ship. He was over-ruled by the 
Governor himself. 

Our cargo spaces were far from 
full. We had so little to export from 
our world. There were the bags of 
mail to the other planetary systems. 
There was a prize ram, with two 
ewes, for Elsinore. There were a 
dozen or so bales of sheepskins for 
lUyria and a shipment of whiskey 
for Venice, whose attempts at the 
manufacture of potables had failed 
even more dismally than had our 
own. There was a rooster and a half 


dozen hens for somebody on Philip- 
pi. Unfortunately they did not sur- 
vive the initial acceleration. 

It was a fine morning when we 
blasted off. There was bright bunt- 
ing all over the spaceport, and the 
Police Band was playing us off. I 
remember The Road To The Isles 
and, as the airlock doors were clos- 
ing, the inevitable Auld Lang Syne. 
I remember, too. Will Ye No' Come 
Back Again? and how Judith said 
that they might have played some- 
thing a little less ominous. 

I remember how stiff and self- 
conscious the new hands looked in 
their new uniforms as they paraded 
before the Gtovernor, and how 
much at home the old hands looked 
in theirs, with the tarnished braid 
and badges. I remember the cheers, 
and the slow booming of the salut- 
ing cannon that Hawkins' men in 
the shop had found time to make, 
somehow, in spite of the fact that 
they had been working on the ship 
every waking hour. 

I remember how we marched 
up the ramp to the airlock, striding 
in time to the skirling of the pipes 
and the throbbing of the drums. 
Then we were busy, except for the 
deadheads. The navigational, en- 
gineering and communications staflf 
went straight to their stations. 
Judith and I were busy, too — ^we 
worked together, seeing that all the 
passengers were strapped safely in 
their acceleration couches. We got 
to our own cabin just as Sorensen's 
voice was coming over the inter- 
com: "Thirty seconds to blast-off! 
Twenty . . . Fifteen . . . Ten . . ." 

We were lifting then, and the 
giant hand of inertia was pressing 


us down into the padding. We were 
lifting, and I could hear, even 
above the roar of the rockets, the 
usual, disquieting noises inevi- 
table at the beginning of any voy- 
age, even with the most highly 
trained crew. There is always some- 
thing insecurely fastened that will 
carry away from a bulkhead. There 
is always something in a state of un- 
stable equilibrium that will fall. 
There is always at least one sub- 
standard light fitting that will shat- 
ter. There is always somebody — and 
it isn't always a woman — ^who will 
panic alnd scream. 

The Old Man's voice came 
through the speakers. Judging from 
the sound of it he had been having 
as bad a time as anybody, probably 
worse. He was old, and fat, and in 
no condition to take the strains and 
stresses of spaceship handling. Al- 
though, I reflected, he had shown 
no signs of wear and tear after we 
had brought the Gift Horse in. It 
must be, I decided, emotion. After 
years ashore he was once again 
Master of a ship in deep space. 

"Stand by for Free Fall," he said 

The rockets died. 

"The vessel will be proceeding 
under Interstellar Drive within a 
few minutes," said Sorensen. 
"Those of you who wish may pro- 
ceed to the lounge. Mr. and Mrs. 
Chambers will explain to you what 
is happening and will answer any 
questions you care to ask." 

"He means that we'll try to ex- 
plain and try to answer their ques- 
tions," said Judith, unbuckling her 

"I never noticed you at a loss 


for an answer when we were in the 
old Beta Virginis," I told her. 

"Or I you," she replied. "I re- 
member that physicist we carried 
— what was his name? — told me 
that he had never been so enter- 
tained in all his life as he was by 
your explanation of the working of 
the Drive . . ." 

"I remember," I said. "That . . . 

"You had no need to worry," she 
smiled. "I was known among the 
girls as the virgin of the Virgin 

We floated out into the alleyway, 
pulled ourselves along the guide 
rails to the lounge. About two 
thirds of our deadhead passengers 
were there. The others, doubtless, 
were being sick. I hoped that 
Judith's two assistants — airlines 
hostesses they had been — ^weren't 
being sick themselves. 

There was the usual cry of won- 
derment as the shutters slid aside 
from the huge windows. We all 
looked out. There lay Dunsinane, a 
huge globe, all green and brown 
and blue, with the light of Mac- 
beth, our primary, reflected bril- 
liantly from the Polar icecaps and 
the summits of the high, snow cov- 
ered mountains of the Malcolm 

Beyond Dunsinane was the black- 
ness of intergalactic space, broken 
only by the sparse, dim nebulosities 
that were other galaxies, that were 
island universes. I wondered from 
which of them Gift Horse had 
come. I wondered why she had 
come. I wondered what we would 
do and say when her rightful own- 
ers confronted us and accused us 


of stealing their ship. 

"Mr. Chambers," said somebody. 

I turned round. It was pretty 
little Mrs. Mackay, the Bio-Chem- 
ist's wife. Somebody should have 
told her, I thought, that a wide 
skirt is not the ideal garment to 
wear during Free Fall. I was rather 
glad that nobody had. 

"Mr. Chambers," she said again, 
"the Captain said that you'd an- 
swer any questions we had. The 
Purser of the boat I came out on 
did tell me about the Mannschenn 
Drive, but I'm afraid that he wasn't 
very clear . . ." 

"First of all," I said, raising my 
voice a little for the benefit of any- 
body else who might be listening, 
"the ship has to be pointed the 
right way. Sometimes this is done 
by cutting the reaction drive— the 
rockets — and swinging the ship on 
her gyroscopes and then cutting in 
the reaction drive again for a few 
minutes. The best, and the least 
wasteful way — as far as reaction 
mass is concerned — is to blast off 
at just the right time so that the 
ship is pointed the right way to 
start with. That's what the Captain 
did. We're pointed directly at Ham- 

"Now, the Drive itself. Everybody 
knows that a spinning gyroscope 
will precess at right angles to an 
applied force. It was Mannschenn 
who discovered the principle of 
what is called Temporal Precession, 
who induced a gyroscope to precess 
at right angles to the three dimen- 
sions of Space. The precession, of 
course, still takes place within the 
framework of the space-time con- 
tinuum ..." 


"A sort of time machine!" she 

"No. It's not a Time Machine." 

"But the Purser of Epsilon Lyrae 
told me that the ship was going 
ahead in space and astern in time." 

"You can't go astern in time," I 
said. "Oh, I know that there have 
been stories written in which the 
Drive, either by accident or on pur- 
pose, has been used as a time ma- 
chine — ^but you've only to think 
about it to see how utterly impossi- 
ble it is. Once you have time travel 
you get involved in a mess of abso- 
lutely insoluble paradoxes. You go 
back and you murder your great 
grandfather — thus automatically 
cancelling yourself out. So, if you 
never existed, you couldn't go back 
in time to murder your great grand- 
father. But if you haven't murdered 
your great grandfather you do exist 
after all. Do you see?" 

"No," said Judith, who had 
joined the audience. "But carry on, 

"But he's making it all so clear, 
Mrs. Chambers," said Mrs, 

"Is he?" 

"Anyhow," I said, "it takes some 
few minutes to warm the Drive up. 
You can hear the gyroscopes that 
are its essential guts humming now. 
Once the precession starts you'll see 
the stars— what few stars we can 
see from here — fade and vanish. 
You'll see Dunsinane vanish. Navi- 
gation will no longer be visual, but 
will be entirely by instruments, by 
the mass detectors and such. We 
shall see nothing further until we 
return to normal space-time in the 
neighborhood of Hamlet. Then 


we shall come in to Elsinore on 
rocket drive." 

"Normal space-time?" asked 
Mrs. Mackay. "But you said that 
the so-called Temporal Precession 
took place within the framework of 
the space-time continuum." 

I noted with relief that the hum- 
ming of the Drive had risen to an 
almost supersonic whine. 

"What I meant was," I said, 
speaking with deliberate slowness, 
"was ..." 

"Stand by for Interstellar Drive!" 
barked Sorensen's voice from the 
bulkhead speaker. "Stand by for 
Interstellar Drive!" 

HAVE YOU ever tried to swim 
in molasses? 

That's what it was like as I made 
my slow and painful way through 
alleyways and along the axial shaft 
to Control. There was something 
wrong with the Drive, something 
very badly wrong with the Drive, 
and we all knew it. Perhaps the 
passengers wouldn't have realized 
it, at first, had not Hawkins, his 
face white and strained and drip- 
ping with perspiration, passed 
through the lounge on his laborious 
journey to Control, had he not re- 
turned, minutes later, with a wor- 
ried and scared looking Calver in 

We got the passengers back into 
their cabins, Judith and I, and saw 
that they were securely strapped 
into their bunks. Then I decided 
to see Sorensen to ask what was 
wrong. We had heard nothing over 
the intercom, and all our attempts 
to get into touch with Control by 


its use had failed. And there was 
something wrong with the lights. 
They were burning dimly, with a 
feeble radiance that was so close to 
the infra-red that it made no ap- 
preciable difference. There was 
light a-plenty from the pearly glow 
that streamed in through the still 
unshuttered ports. 

My journey to Control seemed to 
take years. How long it took in ac- 
tuality I don't know. There are so 
many different kinds of time. But I 
got there at last, pulled myself into 
the compartment through the open 

Sorensen was there, strapped into 
his chair, staring out through the 
viewports at the luminous empti- 
ness. The three ex-airmen were 
there, looking, in spite of their 
spacemen's uniforms, like fish out 
of water. One of them was huddled 
over the Mass Detector. 

"There's nothing!" he was crying 
hysterically. "There's nothing!" 

"Captain Sorensen!" I said. 
"What's happened? What's 

The old man turned his head 

"I wish I knew. Chambers," he 
said. "All I can tell you is this— but 
don't say anything to the passengers 
yet — all I can tell you is this; the 
Drive's taken charge." 

I remembered the stories and the 
legends of which I had made such 
fun when I was explaining the 
Drive to Mrs. Mackay — how long 
ago? I thought of time cycles and 
paradoxes. I thought of Gift Horse 
as a sort of Flying Dutchman of 
Space, with ourselves condemned 
to wander through and around and 


outside the Continuum for all 

"Are we headed for the Past?" I 
asked. "But that's impossible." 

"I know damn' well that it's im- 
possible!" he barked, with a return 
to his old irascibility. "It always 
was impossible, and it is still impos- 
sible. So we aren't doing it." 

"Then what are we doing?" 

"I . . . don't . . . know. Hawkins 
doesn't know. Galver doesn't know. 
All that I know is this — we should 
have tried to get hold of a proper- 
ly qualified Mannschenn engineer. 
All that I know is this — we should 
have looked our gift horse in the 
mouth before riding off on her. 
Gift horse? She's a Trojan Horse 
in reverse!" 

Hawkins came in to Control. He 
looked even more frightened than 
when I had seen him last. 

"Well, Mr. Hawkins?" asked 
Sorensen. "Or is it not well?" 

"It's not. Captain. There were 
no faults when we blasted off — I'll 
swear to that. There was nothing 
wrong with the circuits. But the 
controls burned out almost im- 
mediately after we got her started 
— they could almost have been 
booby trapped. They were booby 
trapped. And . . . and . . ." 

"And what, Mr. Hawkins?" 

"I can't believe it myself, but Dr. 
Calver says it's so. She's running in 

There was a long silence. 

Then! "Get hold of Higgins and 
Templar," the Old Man told me. 
"Tell them to try their damnedest 
to get in touch with somebody 
somewhere, somehow . . ." 

But Higgins' receivers were dead, 


as was all his apparatus. And 
Templar I found unconscious and 
Fido, the organic psionic amplifier, 
was no more than a mass of cor- 
ruption in its tank. I found the 
Doctor, and we revived Templar. 
All he could tell us was that he had 
been hit by an overwhelming wave 
of age and tiredness. It had been, 
he said, like the entire Galaxy cry- 
ing out for rest, for a surcease from 
labor. It had been too much for 

There was nothing now, he said. 
There was nothing. 


LOOKING BACK, I am still sur- 
I prised that not one of us 
thought of making a finish to it all. 
Perhaps some of us did think of it 
but, if so, the idea never got past 
the thinking stage. Our only salva- 
tion, I am convinced, was the 
women. They let us console our- 
selves with the thought that, no 
matter where— or when — we fin- 
ished up we could become the 
Adams and Eves of a new race. 
Too, there was the urge to carry on 
to see what would happen next. I 
know that already detailed plans 
were being made to consider the 
ship as a closed, ecological unit 
capable of functioning as such for 
an indefinite period of time. 

So we kept going. Sorensen gave 
Calver and Hawkins strict instruc- 
tions not to do anything — anything 
— to the Drive until they were sure 
what they were doing. Committees 
for this, that and the other were 
organized. An amateur theatrical 
society came into being, and a string 


quartet. The almost lost art of writ- 
ing was revived. Until something 
happened — or until Hawkins and 
Calver made something happen — 
we were a world, even though a 
pitifully small one. 

We adjusted ourselves to the ef- 
fects of the field of the Drive — 
after all, the human animal can 
adjust itself to almost anything. We 
lived our not unhappy lives. We 
saw to it that there was work for 
everybody. Never, in all the history 
of Man the Navigator, has the in- 
side of a ship shone as did the in- 
terior of Gift Horse. We had al- 
cohol to take the sharp edge off our 
doubts and fears and forebodings — 
Mackay saw to that. As a brewer 
and as a distiller he was a first class 
Bio-Chemist— even so, his "Gift 
Horse Vodka" was a boon and a 

We had all, I suppose, settled 
down quite comfortably, almost 
happily, when the Drive stopped. 
It happened without warning, at a 
time when Hawkins and Calver 
were in Control discussing matters 
with Sorensen and his senior of- 
ficers. The sudden cessation of the 
high-pitched whine was as nerve 
shattering as an explosion would 
have been. It was some time before 
any of us thought to look out of the 
ports, before any of us looked at 
the instruments. 

The shining haze was gone, as 
though it never had been. 

Outside was blackness — a black- 
ness more intense than any of us 
had ever known, broken — and in- 
tensified by a pitiful scattering of 
dim, faint stars. Outside was a 
feebly glowing red sun. Outside was 


a planet, even at this range obvi- 
ously desolate, even at this range 
no more than a ball of ice and 
desert sand. 

The meeting broke up suddenly. 
Hawkins and Calver scurried out 
of Control, followed closely by Hig- 
gins and Templar. Judith and I re- 

The intercom was working again. 

"Calver here," came the scien- 
tist's dry voice. "The Mannschenn 
Drive Unit has burned itself out. It 
can never be repaired." 

"Tell Hawkins to speak to me," 
said Sorensen crisply. "Mr. Haw- 
kins — Reaction Drive stations!" 

"Reaction Drive stations it is, 

"Communications to Control. 
Templar here. There's something, 
somebody, on that planet. It's not 
quite alien, but . . ." 

"Radio Communications to Con- 
trol. Higgins here, Captain. I'm in 
touch with them, whoever they are. 
They speak English. I'll switch you 

"Calling starship," came a flat 
voice. "Calling starship. Come in, 

"Starship Gift Horse here," re- 
plied the Old Man. "Sorensen, 
Master. Who are you? Where are 

"Prepare for landing. Captain 
Sorensen. Prepare for landing. Fol- 
low the beam in." 

"Why the hell should we land?" 
exploded Sorensen. 

"You have nowhere else to go, 
Captain. You have no Interstellar 

"Suppose we don't want to 


"We are quite capable of coming 
to fetch you in, Captain. Further- 
more, we would point out that your 
ship was built to withstand aging 
stresses for a limited period only, 
and that, according to our calcula- 
tions, only a few hours of life re- 
main to her." 

"They built the ship," muttered 
the Old Man. "They know what 
they put into her . . . They're not 
bluffing — or are they?" He 
shrugged his thick shoulders. "All 
right," he said. "All right, whoever 
you are. We're coming down." To 
us he said, "Landing Stations." 

I should have gone back into the 
accommodation with Judith to help 
control the passengers. But I wanted 
so to watch what was happening. I 
made myself as small and as in- 
conspicuous as possible, and hoped 
that Captain Sorensen wouldn't see 
me and chase me out of Control. 

The descent was routine enough 
— swinging Gift Horse on her gyro- 
scopes, braking her with brief rocket 
blasts. We fell rapidly at first, and 
abruptly the world beneath us was 
no longer a globe but a huge bowl 
into which we were falling. We 
heard the thin, high keening as the 
first molecules of atmosphere swept 
up and past our hull. We felt the 
rise in internal temperature. 

And then we slowed. Carefully 
the Old Man brought her down, 
carefully, carefully, riding the beam 
in. I looked at the screen to see 
what it was to which we were fall- 
ing, what desolate huddle of build- 
ings in the all pervading desert, 
among the low, eroded hills. I cried 
aloud in amazement — ^we were 
dropping to what seemed to be the 


only oasis on the time-ravaged face 
of the planet. 

We touched at last, and the si- 
lence beat at our ears with the ces- 
sation of the rockets' screaming 
roar. We touched at last, and I got 
up from my seat and looked out at 
the pleasant landscape — the grass, 
the trees, the bright flowers. 

I looked at the beings who were 
coming towards us. There were 
three men in gleaming spacesuits, 
and following them were half a 
dozen wheeled machines. I was re- 
lieved when I saw no obvious 

"Send for the Purser," the Old 
Man was saying, "and . . . Oh, 
you're here, Chambers." 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

"I see no reason to depart from 
standard practice," said Sorensen. 
"You will go down to the airlock 
to receive our visitors — they must 
be the Port officials." 

"Hadn't I better wear a space- 
suit, sir?" 

"Yes. You'd better. They're wear- 
ing spacesuits." 

"Captain Sorensen," said the ra- 
dio. "Evacuate your ship at once, 
bringing with you such easily port- 
able stores and baggage as you re- 
quire. I assure you that the atmos- 
phere is breathable and the tem- 
perature tolerable." 

"Put on your spacesuit," said 
Sorensen to me. "Go down to the 
airlock. Find out, if you can, why 
they are wearing suits." 

I put on my spacesuit — the same 
one that I had worn when we 
brought the Gift Horse in. I went 
down to the airlock. The inner door 
shut behind me. After a long pause, 


the outer door opened. The retract- 
able ramp reached down to the 
ground like a long, gleaming 

The three spacesuited figures 
walked stiffly up the ramp. Before I 
could retreat two of them had 
seized me by the arms while the 
third one raised his gloved hands to 
twist my helmet. It came clear and 
free, and as I opened my mouth to 
shout I took a great, involuntary 
gasp of air. I realized, too late, what 
I had done. I decided that it didn't 
matter, and went on breathing. 

Because the men in spacesuits 
weren't men in spacesuits at all. 
They were robots in human form, 
beautifully and cunningly made, 
graceful as only finely wrought 
metal can be graceful, their fea- 
tureless heads somehow in keeping 
with the slender bodies. 

"Welcome to Dunsinane," said 
one of them. 

I stared at him stupidly. 

"Welcome to Dunsinane," he 
said again. 

I began realize, then, what 
had happened. I saw, dimly, that 
we had come a long way in a long 
time— or should I have said a long 
time in a long way? I knew that we 
had come full circle, but that it 
wasn't a circle, but a spiral. 

I knew that we should have 
looked our gift horse in the mouth. 

THERE IS little left to tell. 
All hands managed to get 
away from the ship before she 
crumbled into metallic dust, saving 
most of the stores and cargo and 
personal effects. We were taken to 


the charming village where we stDl 
live — we and our children. We have 
no cause to complain of our treat- 
ment; we are waited upon hand 
and foot by willing slaves such as 
no emperor of olden times could 
ever have commanded. We live 
quite well on the fruit and the vege- 
tables of the oasis, and on the syn- 
thetics that the robots make for us. 
Now and again we allow ourselves 
the luxury of mutton or lamb. (It 
is a great pity that those fowls did 
not survive the take-off . . .) 

We know, too, what it was — and 
is— all about. It was Templar who 
got into touch with the . . . entity 
living — and I think the word "liv- 
ing" is justifiable — in the very heart 
of the planet. It is practically pure 
brain, says Templar, for all that it 
is a machine and not an organic 
being. Its relationship to the lesser 
machines on the surface is almost 
like that of the queen bee to the 
other inhabitants of the hive. Al- 
most — because each of the lesser 
machines has its own intelligence, 
its own personality, and emotions. 

They were lonely, the robots. 
Man had gone, vanishing from the 
dying, expanding Universe. Man 
had gone — and they, built and de- 
signed to serve Man, were faced 
with an eternity of frustration. 
They were lonely, and their Queen 
Mother did what she could — Tem- 
plar always calls her "she" — to al- 
leviate their loneliness. The trap 
was set and baited — the trap that 
old Sorensen so aptly called "a 
Trojan Horse in reverse". The trap 
was set and baited, and we walked 
into it. 

(Continued on page 112) 




Illustrated by Ed Emsh 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . . And 
the natives of Capella IV, philosophers at heart. 

were not ones to ignore the Golden Rule . . 

MY AUNT MATTIE, Matthewa H. Tombs, is President 
of the Daughters of Terra. I am her nephew, the one 
who didn't turn out well. Christened Hapland Graves, after 
Earth President Hapland, a cousin by marriage, the fellows 
at school naturally called me Happy Graves. 

"Haphazard Graves, it should be," Aunt Mattie com- 
mented acidly the first time she heard it. It was her not 
very subtle way of reminding me of the way I lived my life 
and did things, or didn't do them. She shuddered at any- 
thing disorderly, which of course included me, and it was 
her beholden duty to right anything 
which to her appeared wrong. 

"There won't be any evil to 
march on after you get through. 
Aunt Mattie," I once said when I 
was a child. I like now to think that 
even at the age of six I must have 
mastered the straight face, but I'm 
afraid I was so awed by her that I 
was sincere. 

"That will do, Hapland!" she 
said sternly. But I think she knew I 
meant it — then — and I think that 
was the day I became her favorite 
nephew. For some reason, never 
quite clear to me, she was my favor- 
ite aunt. I think she liked me most 
because I was the cross she had to 
bear. I liked her most, I'm sure, be- 
cause it was such a comfortable 

A few billions spent around the 
house can make things quite com- 
** She had need of her billions to 

carry out her hobbies, or, as she 
called it, her "life's work." Aunt Mattie always spoke in 
cliches because people could understand what you meant. 
One of these hobbies was her collection of flora of the uni- 
verse. It was begun by her maternal grandfather, one of the 
wealthier Plots, and increased as the family fortunes were 
increased by her father, one of the more ruthless Tombs, but 
it was under Aunt Mattie's supervision that it came, so to 
speak, into full flower. 

"Love," she would say, "means more to a flower than all 


the scientific knowledge in the 
world." Apparently she felt that 
the small army of gardeners, each 
a graduate specialist in duplicating 
the right planetary conditions, 
hardly mattered. 

The collection covered some two 
hundred acres in our grounds at the 
west side of the house. Small, per- 
haps, as some of the more vulgar 
displays by others go, but very, very 

The other hobby, which she com- 
bines with the first, is equally ex- 
pensive. She and her club members, 
the Daughters of Terra (D.T.s for 
short), often find it necessary to 
take junkets on the family space 
yacht out to some distant planet — 
to straighten out reprehensible con- 
ditions which have come to her at- 
tention. I usually went along to take 
care of — symbolically, at least— the 
bags and (their) baggage. 

My psychiatrist would say that 
expressing it in this way shows I 
have never outgrown my juvenile 
attitudes. He says I am simply a 
case of arrested development, men- 
tal, caused through too much over- 
shadowing by the rest of the family. 
He says that, like the rest of them, 
I have inherited the family com.- 
pulsion to make the universe over 
to my own liking so I can pass it on 
to posterity with a clear conscience, 
and my negative attitude toward 
this is simply a defense mechanism 
because I haven't had a chance to 
do it. He says I really hate my aunt's 
flora collection because I see it as a 
rival for her affection. I tell him if 
I have any resentments toward it at 
all it is for the long hours spent in 
getting the latinized names of things 


drilled into me. I ask him why gar- 
deners always insist on forcing long 
meaningless names upon non-gar- 
deners who simply don't care. He 
ignores that, and says that subcon- 
sciously I hate my Aunt Mattie be- 
cause I secretly recognize that she 
is a challenge too great for me to 
overcome. I ask him why, if I sub- 
consciously hate Aunt Mattie, why 
I would care about how much af- 
fection she gives to her flora collec- 
tion. He says, ahah! We are making 

He says he can't cure me — of 
what, I'm never clear — until I find 
the means to cut down and destroy, 
my Aunt Mattie. 

This is all patent nonsense be- 
cause Aunt Mattie is the rock, the 
firm foundation in a universe of 
shifting values. Even her cliches 
are precious to me because they are 
unchanging. On her, I can depend. 

He tells Aunt Mattie his diag- 
noses and conclusions, too. Unethi- 
cal? Well now! Between a mere 
psychiatrist and my Aunt Mattie is 
there any doubt about who shall 
say what is ethical? 

After one of their long confer- 
ences about me she calls me into 
her study, looks at me wordlessly, 
sadly, shakes her head, sighs — then 
squares her shoulders until the shelf 
of her broad, although maiden, 
bosom becomes huge enough to 
carry any burden, even the burden 
of my alleged hate. This she bears 
bravely, even gratefully. I might 
resent this needless pain the psy- 
chiatrist gives her, except that it 
really seems to make her happier in 
some obscure way. 

Perhaps she has some kind of 


guilt complex, and I am her de- 
served punishment? Aunt Mattie 
with a guilt complex? Never! Aunt 
Mattie knows she is right, and goes 

So all his nonsense is completely 
ridiculous. I love my Aunt Mattie. 
I adore my Aunt Mattie. I would 
never do anything to hurt my Aunt 

Or, well, I didn't mean to hurt 
her, anyway. All I did was wink. I 
only meant . . . 

WE WERE met at the space 
port of Capella IV by the 
planet administrator, himself, one 
John J. McCabe. 

It was no particular coincidence 
that I knew him. My school was 
progressive. It admitted not only 
the scions of the established fam- 
ilies but those of the ambitious fam- 
ilies as well. Its graduates, natural- 
ly, went into the significant careers. 
Johnny McCabe was one of the 
ambitious ones. We hadn't been 
anything like bosom pals at school; 
but he'd been tolerant of me, and 
I'd admired him, and fitfully told 
myself I should be more like him. 
Perhaps this was the reason Aunt 
Mattie had insisted on this particu- 
lar school, the hope that some of 
the ambition would rub off on me. 
Capella IV wasn't much of a 
post, not even for the early stages 
in a young man's career, although, 
socially, it was perhaps the best be- 
ginning Johnny's family could have 
expected. It was a small planet, en- 
tirely covered by salt. Even inside 
the port bubble with its duplication 
of Earth atmosphere, the salt lay 


like a permanent snow scene. Actu- 
ally it was little more than a way 
station along the space route out 
in that direction, and Johnny's 
problems were little more than the 
problems of a professional host at 
some obscure resort. But no doubt 
his dad spoke pridefully of "My 
son, a planet administrator," and 
when I called on the family to tell 
them I'd visited their son, I 
wouldn't be one to snitch. 

There was doubt in my mind that 
even Johnny's ambition could 
make the planet into anything more 
than it was already. It had nothing 
we wanted, or at least was worth 
the space freight it would cost to 
ship it. The natives had never given 
us any trouble, and, up until now, 
we hadn't given them any. So 
Earth's brand upon it was simply a 
small bubble enclosing a landing 
field, a hangar for checkup and 
repair of ships requiring an emer- 
gency landing, some barracks for 
the men and women of the port per- 
sonnel, a small hotel to house 
stranded space passengers while re- 
pairs were made to their ship, or 
stray V.I.P.'s. 

A small administration building 
flying Federated Earth flag, and a 
warehouse to contain supplies, 
which had to be shipped in, com- 
pleted the installation. The planet 
furnished man nothing but water 
pumped from deep in the rock 
strata beneath the salt, and even 
that had to be treated to remove 
enough of the saline content to 
make it usable. At the time, I didn't 
know what the natives, outside our 
bubble, lived on. The decision to 
come had been a sudden one, and 


I hadn't had more than enough 
time to call the State Department 
to find out who the planet admin- 
istrator might be. 

I was first out of the yacht and 
down the landing steps to the salt 
covered ground. Aunt Mattie was 
still busy giving her ship captain 
his instructions, and possibly in- 
specting the crew's teeth to see if 
they'd brushed them this morning. 
The two members of her special 
committee of the D.T.'s who'd 
come along, a Miss Point and a 
Mrs. Waddle, naturally would be 
standing at her sides, and a half 
pace to the rear, to be of assistance 
should she need them in dealing 
with males. 

There was a certain stiff formal- 
ity in the way McCabe, flanked by 
his own two selected subordinates, 
approached the ship — until I turned 
around at the foot of the steps and 
he recognized me. 

"Hap!" he yelled, then. "Happy 
Graves, you old son of a gun!" He 
broke into a run, dignity forgotten, 
and when he got to me he grabbed 
both my shoulders in his powerful 
hands to shake me as if he were 
some sort of terrier — and I a rat. 
His joy seemed all out of proportion 
until I remembered he probably 
hadn't seen anybody from school 
for a long time; and until I further 
remembered that he would have 
been alerted by the State Depart- 
ment to Aunt Mattie's visit and 
would have been looking forward 
to it with dread and misgivings. 

To realize he had a friend at 
court must really have overjoyed 

"Johnny," I said. "Long time." 


It had been. Five-six years anyway. 
I held out my hand in the old 
school gesture. He let loose my 
shoulders and grabbed it in the tra- 
ditional manner. We went through 
the ritual, which my psychiatrist 
would have called juvenile, and 
then he looked at me pointedly. 

"You remember what it means," 
he said, a little anxiously I thought, 
and looked significantly at my hand. 
"That we will always stand by each 
other, through thick and thin." His 
eyes were pulled upward to the 
open door of the yacht. 

"You can expect it to be both 
thick and thin," I said drily. "If 
you know my Aunt Mattie." 

"She's your aunt?" he asked, his 
eyes widening. "Matthewa H. 
Tombs is your aunt. I never knew. 
To think, all those years at school, 
and I never knew. Why, Hap, Hap- 
py, old boy, this is wonderful. Man, 
have I been worried!" 

"Don't stop on my account," I 
said, maybe a little dolefully. 
"Somebody reported to the Daugh- 
ters of Terra that you let the na- 
tives run around out here stark 
naked, and if Aunt Mattie says 
she's going to put mother hubbards 
on them, then that's exactly what 
she's going to do. You can depend 
on that, old man." 

"Mother Hub . . ." he gasped. 
He looked at me strangely. "It's a 
joke," he said. "Somebody's pulled 
a practical joke on the D.T.'s. Have 
you ever seen our natives? Pictures 
of them? Didn't anybody check up 
on what they're like before you 
came out here? It's a joke. A prac- 
tical joke on the D.T.'s. It has to 


"I wouldn't know," I said. "But 
if they're naked they won't be for 
long, I can tell you that. Aunt Mat- 
tie .. ." 

His eyes left my face and darted 
up to the door of the ship which 
was no longer a black oval. The un- 
explained bewilderpient of his ex- 
pression was not diminished as 
Aunt Mattie came through the 
door, out on the loading platform, 
and started down the steps. He 
grew a little white around the 
mouth, licked his lips, and forgot 
all his joy at meeting an old school 
mate. His two subordinates who 
had remained standing just out of 
earshot, as if recognizing a crisis 
now, stepped briskly up to his sides. 

Aunt Mattie's two committee 
women, as if to match phalanx with 
phalanx, came through the door 
and started down the steps behind 
her. I stepped to one side as the 
two forces met face to face on the 
crunching salt that covered the 
ground. It might look like a Christ- 
mas scene, but under Capella's rays 
it was blazing hot, and I found my- 
self in sympathy with the men's 
open necked shirts and brief shorts. 
Still, they should have known bet- 
ter than to dress like that. Some- 
body in the State Department had 

Aunt Mattie and her two com- 
mittee women were dressed conserv- 
atively in something that might 
have resembled an English Colonel's 
wife's idea of the correct tweeds to 
wear on a cold, foggy night. If they 
were already sweltering beneath 
these coverings, as I was beginning 
to in my lighter suit, they were too 
ladylike to show it. Their acid 


glance at the men's attire showed 
what they thought of the informal- 
ity of dress in which they'd been re- 
ceived. But they were too ladylike 
to comment. After that first pointed 
look at bare knees, they had no 
need of it. 

"This is the official attire pre- 
scribed for us by the State Depart- 
ment," Johnny said, a little anx- 
iously, I thought. It was hardly the 
formal speech of welcome he, as 
planet administrator, must have 

"I have no doubt of it," Aunt 
Mattie said, and her tone told them 
what she thought of the State De- 
partment under the present admin- 
istration. "You would hardly have 
met ladies in such — ah — other- 
wise." I could see that she was mak- 
ing a mental note to speak to the 
State Department about it. 

"Make a note," she said and 
turned to Miss Point. "I will speak 
to the State Department. How can 
one expect natives to ... if our own 
representatives don't . . . etc., etc." 

"May I show you to your quar- 
ters, ma'am?" Johnny asked hum- 
bly. "No doubt you will wish to 
freshen up, or . . ." 

Miss Point blushed furiously. 

"We are already quite fresh, 
young man," Aunt Mattie said 

I happened to know that Aunt 
Mattie didn't like to browbeat peo- 
ple, not at all. It would all have 
been so much more pleasant, gra- 
cious, if they'd been brought up to 
know right from wrong. But what 
parents and schools had failed to 
do, she must correct as her duty. 
I thought it about time I tried to 


smooth things over. I stepped up 
into their focus. 

"Aunt Mattie," I said. "This is 
Johnny McCabe. We were at school 

Her eyebrows shot upward. 

"You were?" she asked, and 
looked piercingly at Johnny. "Then, 
I realize, young man, that your at- 
tire is not your fault. You must have 
been acting under orders, and 
against your personal knowledge of 
what would be correct. I under- 
stand." She turned again to Miss 
Point. "Underscore that note to the 
State Department," she said. "Mark 
it emergency." She turned back to 
Johnny. "Very well, Mr. McCabe, 
we would appreciate it, after all, 
if you would show us to our quar- 
ters so that we may — ah — freshen 
up a bit. It is rather a warm day, 
isn't it?" 

She was quite gracious now, re- 
assured because Johnny was an old 
school mate of mine, and would 
therefore know right from wrong. 
If I sometimes didn't seem to, she 
knew me well enough to know it 
had not been the fault of the school. 

The three of us, Johnny on one 
side of Aunt Mattie and I on the 
other side, started toward the frame 
building on the other side of the 
bubble, which I assumed was the 
hotel. The four subordinates trailed 
along behind, silent, wary of one 

Behind them the baggage truck, 
which had been piled high by the 
ship's crew, hissed into life and 
started moving along on its tractor 
treads. Johnny caught a glimpse of 
it, without actually turning around, 
and his eyes opened wide. He mis- 


interpreted, of course. From the 
mountain of baggage it looked like 
our intention to stay a long time. 

But then he wouldn't have been 
particularly reassured, either, had 
he realized that our own supplies 
were quite scant and these bags, 
boxes, and crates contained sewing 
machines and many, many bolts of 
gaily colored cloth. 

I HAD HARDLY more than— ah 
— freshened up a bit myself in 
my hotel room, when I heard a dis- 
creet knock on my door. I opened 
it and saw Johnny McCabe. 

"May I come in, Hap?" he asked. 
As if against his will, he glanced 
quickly down the hall toward the 
suite where aunt and her commit- 
tee had been put. 

"Sure, Johnny," I said, and 
opened the door wide. I pointed to 
an aluminum tube torture rack, 
government issue's idea of a chair. 
"You can haye the chair," I said. 
"I'll sit on the edge of the bed." 

"I'm sorry about the furnishings," 
he said apologetically as he sat 
down and I closed the door. "It's 
the best government will issue us in 
this hole." 

"Aunt Mattie would be disap- 
pointed if it were better," I said 
as I sat on the edge of the bed, 
which was little softer than the 
chair. "She expects to rough it, and 
finds special virtue in doing her 
duty as uncomfortably as possible." 

He looked sharply at me, but I 
had merely stated an accepted fact, 
not an opinion, and was therefore 
emotionless about it. 

"I'm in trouble, Hap," he said 


desperately. He leaned forward with 
his clasped hands held between his 

"Well, old man," I answered. 
"You know me." 

"Yes," he said. "But there isn't 
anybody else I can turn to." 

"Then we understand each 
other," I agreed. He looked both re- 
sentful and puzzled. 

"No, I never did understand 
you," he disagreed. "I suppose it's 
all those billions that act as shock 
insulation for you. You never had 
to plan, and scheme, and stand 
alert indefinitely like a terrier at a 
rat hole waiting for opportunity to 
stick out its nose so you could 
pounce on it. So I don't see how 
you can appreciate my problem 

"I might try," I said humbly. 

"This job," he said. "It's not 
much, and I know it. But it was a 
start. The department doesn't ex- 
pect anything from me but pa- 
tience. It's not so much ability, you 
know, just a matter of who can 
hang on the longest without getting 
into trouble. I've been hanging on, 
and keeping out of trouble." 

"But you're in trouble now." 

"I will be when your aunt fails to 
put mother hubbards on the na- 

"She won't fail," I said confi- 

"And when she storms into the 
State Department with fire in her 
eye and starts turning things upside 
down, it'll be my fault — somehow," 
he said miserably. 

"So let her put some clothes on 
some natives," I said. "She'll go 
away happy and then, for all you 


care, they can take 'em off and 
burn 'em if they insist on going 
around naked. Just swing with the 
punch, man. Don't stand up and 
let 'em knock your block off. Surely 
you have some influence with the 
natives. I don't hear any war 
drums, any tom-toms. I don't see 
them trying to tear holes in the 
sides of your bubble to let the air 
out. You must be at peace with 
them. You must have some kind of 
mutual cooperation. So just get a 
tribe or so to go along with the idea 
for a while." 

He looked at me and shook his 
head sadly. Sort of the way Aunt 
Mattie shook her head after a con- 
ference with my psychiatrist. But 
Johnny didn't seem somehow hap- 
pier. He had a pretty good chest, 
but it didn't look enormous enough 
to carry any burden. 

"I've been pretty proud of my- 
self," he said. "After five years of 
daily attempts, and after using 
everything I ever learned in school 
courses on extraterrestrial psychol- 
ogy, plus some things I've made up 
myself, I established a kind of com- 
munication with the natives — if you 
could call it communication. I'd go 
out in my spacesuit into their 
chlorinated atmosphere, I'd stand 
in front of one of them and talk a 
blue streak, think a blue streak. 
After about five years of it, one of 
them slowly closed his eye and then 
opened it again. I invited one of 
them to come inside the bubble. I 
told him about the difference in 
atmosphere, that it might be dan- 
gerous. I got one of them to come 
in. It made no difference to him." 

"Well, fine, then," I said. "Just 


get some of them to come in again, 
let Aunt Mattie put some clothes 
on them, and ever>'body's happy." 

He stood up suddenly. 

"Take a walk with me, Hap," he 
said. It was more of a command 
than an invitation. "Over to the 
edge of the bubble. I want to show 
you some natives." 

I was willing. 

On the way around to the back 
of the building, over the crunching 
salt, I had a thought. 

"If all he did was close an eye," 
I said. "How did you learn their 
language, so you could invite him 
inside, explain about the atmos- 

"I don't even know they have a 
language," he said. "Maybe he 
learned mine. I used to draw pic- 
tures in the salt, the way they 
taught us at school, and say words. 
Maybe it took him five years to put 
the thoughts together, maybe they 
don't have any concept of language 
at all, or need it. Maybe he was 
thinking about something else all 
those five years, and just got around 
to noticing me. I don't know, Hap." 

We came around the edge of an 
outbuilding then to an unobstructed 
view of the bubble edge. Even 
through dark glasses he'd cautioned 
me to wear with a gesture, as he 
put on another pair for himself, 
the scene through the clear plastic 
was blinding white. Scattered here 
and there on the glistening salt were 
blobs of black. 

"Why," I exclaimed. "Those are 
octopi. I suppose that's what the 
natives use for food? I've won- 

"Those are the natives," he an- 


swered, drily. 

By now we were up to the plastic 
barrier of our bubble and stood 
looking out at the scene. 

"Well," I said after some long 
moments of staring. "It will be a 
challenge to the D.T.'s, won't it?" 

He looked at me with disgust. 

"What do they eat?" I asked. 

"I don't know if they eat," he 
said. "Can't you get it through your 
thick skull, man, that these things 
are alien? Completely alien? How 
do I know?" 

"Well you must know some 
things after five years of study. You 
must have observed them. They 
must get food somehow, they must 
sleep and wake, they must procre- 
ate. You must have observed some- 

"I've observed the process of 
procreation," he answered cau- 

"Well fine, then," I said. "That's 
what's going to concern Aunt Mat- 
tie the most," 

"Here's something that may help 
you understand them," he said, 
and I felt a bit of the sardonic in 
his voice, a grimness. "When that 
one visited me inside here," he said. 
"I took him into my office, so I 
could photograph him better with 
all the equipment. I was explain- 
ing everything, not knowing how 
much he understood. I happened 
to pick up a cigarette and a lighter. 
Soon as I flipped the lighter on, he 
shot up a tentacle and took it out of 
my hand. I let him keep it, of 
course. Next day, when I went out- 
side, everyone of them, as far as I 
could see in the distance, had a 


lighter, exactly like the one I'd giv- 
en him. Furthermore, in a chlorin- 
ated atmosphere, without oxygen, 
those lighters burned normally. 
Does that help you to understand 
them better?" he asked with no at- 
tempt to hide the heavy irony. 

I didn't have a chance to answer 
because we both heard a crunching 
in the salt behind us. We turned 
about and there was Aunt Mattie 
and her two committee women be- 
hind her also now in dark glasses. 
I waited until the ladies had come 
up to us, then I waved my arm 
grandly at the scene beyond the 

"Behold the natives in all their 
nakedness, Aunt Mattie," I said. 
Then, to soften the blow it must 
have been, "I'm afraid somebody 
was pulling your leg when they re- 
ported it to the D.T.'s." 

Miss Point gasped audibly. 

Mrs. Waddle said, "Shocking!" 

I couldn't tell whether it was the 
sight of the natives, or my remark 
which indicated I knew they had 
legs to pull. 

For the first time in my life I saw 
uncertainty in Aunt Mattie's eyes 
as she looked, startled, at me, and 
then at Johnny. Then her chin 
squared, her back straightened still 
more, the shelf of her bosom firmed. 

"It really won't be too much of 
a problem, girls," she said. "Actual- 
ly simpler than some we've solved. 
Take a square of cloth, cut a hole 
in the center for that headlike 
pouch to come through where its 
eye is, put in a draw string to cinch 
. it up tight, above those — ah — those 
protuberances, and let it flow out 
over those — ah — legs. Simple, and 


quite attractive, don't you think?" 
The girls nodded happily, and 
Johnny just stood there gasping for 

IT was simpler than any of us 
had thought. 

Johnny looked at me desperately 
when Aunt Mattie told him to have 
one of the natives come in so she 
could fit a pattern on it, to see if 
any gussets would be needed for 
fullness — whatever gussets might 

"One of them came inside be- 
fore," I said in answer to Johnny's 
pleading look. "Ask him again. If 
he refuses, Mohammed will go to 
the mountain. I'm sure you have 
extra space suits. I'm sure the ladies 
won't mind going out to the natives 
if the natives won't come to them." 

"I don't know," Johnny said mis- 
erably. "He may have had sufficient 
curiosity to come inside once, but 
not sufficient to bring him in again. 
You see, ladies," he turned to them 
desperately. "They don't seem to 
care about us, one way or the 

The two committee women 
looked apprehensively at Aunt Mat- 
tie. Not to care about her, one way 
or the other? This was beyond com- 
prehension. But Aunt Mattie was 
equal to it. 

"Very well," she said crisply. 
"We shall not ask them to come to 
us. We shall go to them. It is our 
duty to carry enlightenment to the 
ignorant, wherever they may be, 
so that they can be taught to care. 
In the performance of our duty, we 
have no room for pride. We shall go 


to them, humbly, happily." 

We did, too. 

By the time we'd got into space 
suits and through the bubble lock 
out into the ordinary landscape of 
Capella IV, Capella, the sun, was 
sinking rapidly. 

"We will just have time," Aunt 
Mattie said crisply, through the in- 
tercom of our suits, "To set the pat- 
tern and get some idea of the sizes 
needed. Then tomorrow we can 
begin our work." 

Through his face plate I got a 
look at Johnny's wide, apprehensive 

"Ladies," he said desperately. "I 
must warn you again. I've never 
tried to touch one of them. I don't 
know what will happen. I can't be 
held responsible." 

"You have been most remiss, 
young man," Aunt Mattie said 
sternly. "But then," she added, as 
if remembering that he had gone to 
a proper school, "you're young. No 
doubt overburdened by nonsensical 
red tape in your administrative 
duties. And — -if you had done this 
already, there' d be no reason for my 
being here. I am always willing to 
help wherever I'm needed." 

All five of us marched silently, 
and bravely, on after that. A hun- 
dred yards brought us to the first 
native. It lay there, spread eagled 
in eight directions, on the salt. In 
the center of the tentacles there 
arose a column of black rubbery 
flesh, topped by a rounded dome 
in the center of which was one huge 
liquid black eye. There was not a 
twitch of a tentacle as we came to 
a halt beside it. 

"Is this the one you talked to, 


Johnny?" I asked. 

"How should I know?" he asked 
bitterly. "I never knew if I talked 
to the same one twice." 

"They're much bigger than I 
thought," Miss Point said with a 
little dismay in her voice. 

"Some of them are ten feet in 
diameter," Johnny said, I thought 
with a bit of vindictiveness in his 

"Never mind," Aunt Mattie said. 
"We'll simply sew three lengths of 
cloth together to get our square. 
I'm sure they won't mind a neatly 
done seam." 

She had a length of cloth in one 
arm of her space suit, and a pair of 
scissors in the mechanical claw of 
the other hand. With her eye she 
seemed to measure the diameter of 
the dome and, manipulating the 
scissors with the claw like an expert 
space mechanic, she cut a sizable 
hole in the center of the cloth. 

Entirely without fear or hesita- 
tion, she stepped into the triangle 
between two long black tentacles 
that lay on the salt and walked up 
to the erect column at the center. 
Expertly, she flipped the cloth so 
that the hole settled over the crea- 
ture's head, or whatever it was. 
Fore and aft, the cloth rippled out 
to cover the tentacles. The creature 
did not move. 

With an amazing speed, she took 
some bundles of cloth from the 
arms of Mrs. Waddle, and with 
even moie amazing dextei'ity of the 
space claw, which showed she was 
no amateur, she basted a length of 
cloth on either side of the first strip. 
Then with her scissors, careful not 
to gouge his hide, she cut off the 


corners so that the eight tentacles 
barely peeped out from underneath 
the cloth. 

Somehow, it reminded me of a 
huge red flower with a black pistil 
laying there on the white salt. 

"There, sir," my aunt said with 
satisfaction to the monster. "This 
will hide your nakedness, instill in 
you a sense of true modesty." She 
turned to Johnny. "They must not 
only know what," she instructed. 
"They must also know why." She 
turned back and faced the monster 
again. "It is not your fault," she 
said to it, "That you have been liv- 
ing in a state of sin. On Earth, 
where I come from, we have a code 
which must be followed. Do unto 
others as you would have them do 
unto you. I'm sure that if I lived 
in a state of ignorant sin, I would 
humbly appreciate the kindness of 
someone letting me know. I'm sure 
that, in time, you will also come to 
appreciate it." 

It was quite a noble speech, and 
her two companions bowed their 
space suit helmets in acknowledge- 
ment. Johnny's mouth and eyes 
were wide, and desperate. She 
stepped back then and we all stood 
there looking at the monster. 

The dome of its head began to tilt 
until the eye was fastened upon us. 
It swept over the three ladies, hesi- 
tated on Johnny as if recognizing 
him, but came to rest upon me. It 
stared at me for a full minute. I 
stared back. In some strange way I 
felt as if my psychiatrist were star- 
ing at me, as he often did. 

Then the great eye slowly closed, 
and opened again. As slowly, and 
somewhat to my amazement, I felt 


one of my eyes close and open, I 
winked at it. 

"That's all for this evening," 
Aimt Mattie said crisply. "Let it 
have its clothes, get used to them. 
I have the pattern in my mind. To- 
morrow we will get out our sewing 
machines, and really get busy, girls." 

All the way back to the entrance 
of the bubble, I felt that huge eye 
upon me, following me. 

Why me? 

THE GIRLS did not need to get 
busy the next morning. 

I was awakened by a shout, there 
was the sound of running feet in 
the hall, and a pounding on my 
door. Sleepy eyed, for I had 
dreamed of the monster's eye all 
night long, I opened the door as 
soon as I had found a robe to cover 
my own nakedness. It was Johnny, 
of course. 

"Most amazing thing," he rushed 
in and collapsed into a sitting posi- 
tion on the side of my bed. "Abso- 
lutely amazing. You should see 

"What?" I asked. 

The rumpus must have disturbed 
the ladies, too, for there came an- 
other knock on my door, and when 
I opened it all three of them stood 
there fully dressed. Apparently they 
had arisen at the crack of dawn to 
get busy with their sewing. Miss 
Point and Mrs. Waddle averted 
their eyes modestly from the V neck 
of my robe and my bare legs. Aunt 
Mattie was used to my shameless 

"What is it?" Aunt Mattie asked 


Johnny leaped to his feet again. 

"Amazing," he said again. "I'll 
have to show you. You'll never be- 
lieve it." 

"Young man," Aunt Mattie said 
sharply. "No one has accused you 
of untruthfulness, and you are hard- 
ly a judge of what we are capable 
of believing." 

He stood looking at her with his 
mouth open. 

"Now ladies," I said, and started 
closing the door. "If you'll excuse 
me for two minutes I'll dress and 
we'll go see what Mr. McCabe 
wants to show us." 

The door clicked on my last 
words, and I hastily doffed the robe 
and slid into pants and a shirt. 
Oddly enough, I knew what he was 
going to show us, I just knew. I 
slipped on some shoes without both- 
ering about socks. 

"All right," I said. "I'm ready." 

They had started down the hall, 
and we quickly overtook them. 
Johnny went ahead, led us out of 
the hotel, around its side, and when 
we came around the corner of the 
outbuilding which obscured the 
view, there before us, through the 
bubble wall, we saw what I had 

As far as the eye could see, dotted 
here and there like poppies on 
snow, the natives lay in the early 
sun, each dressed in flaring cloth 
like that Aunt Mattie had designed 
the night before, 

"You see?" Johnny cried out. 
"It's the same as with the lighter. 
One liked it, so they all have it!" 

By now we were up against the 
plastic barrier. The two subordi- 
nates were gasping such words as 


"Fantastic, amazing, astounding, 
incredible, wondrous, weird". 

Aunt Mattie took it all in, and 
her face lit into a beatific smile. 

"You see, young man," she said 
to Johnny. "They needed only to 
be shown right from wrong. Let this 
be a lesson to you." 

"But how did they do it?" Mrs. 
Waddle gasped. 

"Give them some credit for dili- 
gence and ingenuity," Aunt Mattie 
almost snapped at her assistant. "I 
always say we underrate the intel- 
ligence and ingenuity of the lesser 
orders, and that it saps their 
strengths if we are overprotective. 
I admire self-reliance, and these 
have shown they have it. So we will 
not have to do the sewing after all. 
Come girls, we must pack and be 
on our way back to Earth. Our mis- 
sion here is accomplished." 

The two ladies obeyed their lead- 
er without question. The three of 
them, in their sturdy walking shoes 
and their tweed suits, crunched off 
across the salt back to their rooms 
to start packing. 

Johnny and I walked along more 
slowly behind. 

"The incredible Matthewa H. 
Tombs!" he breathed. "She's a 
legend, you know, Hap. But I never 
believed it before." Then, in a com- 
plete and sudden change of mood 
he snickered. Or, at least, it was 
the nearest thing to a small boy 
snicker I'd heard since prep school. 
The snicker turned into a roar of 
laughter, a grown man's laughter. 
"If they only knew!" he shouted, 
apparently feeling secure because 
they'd turned the corner and gone 
out of sight. 


"Knew what?" I asked. 

"Why," he said, and doubled up 
with laughter again. "They've cov- 
ered up all the innocent parts and 
left the reprehensible part, which 
is right behind the eye, fully ex- 

"Johnny, my boy," I said with a 
chuckle. "Do you really believe 
there are innocent parts and repre- 
hensible parts of any creature in the 

He stood stock still and stared at 

"It takes a nasty, salacious mind 
to make that kind of separation," 
I said. 

"But your aun . . . the Daugh- 
ters of . . ." 

"I know my aunt and the Daugh- 
ters of Terra," I said. "I've lived 
with them for years. I know their 
kind of mind. Who would know it 

"But you . . ." 

"The human race," I said, "is 
very young. It's only in the last few 
thousand years that it has discov- 
ered sex as a concept. So like little 
kids in kindergarten it goes around 
being embarrassed and snickering. 
But we'll grow up. Give us time." 

"But you . . ." he said again. 
"But they . . . That's the kind of 
organization that keeps us from 
growing up, Hap. Don't you see 
that? They've kept us mentally re- 
tarded for generations, centuries. 
How can we make progress 
when . . ." 

"What's the hurry, Johnny? 
We've got millions of years, billions, 

He looked at me again, sharply, 


"I've underestimated you. Hap," 
he said. "I'm afraid I always did. 
I had no idea you . . ," 

I shrugged and passed it oflf. I'd 
had no idea either, not until this 
morning, last night, yesterday eve- 
ning when that eye had turned on 
me — and I'd winked bask. 

I didn't know how to tell him, or 
any reason why I should, that there 
couldn't be anything right or wrong, 
good or bad; that nothing could 
happen, nothing at all, excepting 
through the working of the law of 
nature. Could one say that water 
running down hill is good, and wa- 
ter being pumped up hill is bad? 
Both are operating within known 
physical laws. With millions of years 
to go, wasn't it likely we would go 
on discovering the laws governing 
how things worked? Until one by 
one we had to give up all notion of 
good and bad happenings? Under- 
stood them as only the operation of 
natural law? In all the universe, 
how could there be any such thing 
as unnatural happenings? 

"Don't worry about it, Johnny," 
I said as we started walking again. 
"And don't worry about your ca- 
reer, either. Aunt Mattie likes you, 
and she's mighty pleased with the 
results of her work out here. Cer- 
tain people in the State Department 
may consider her a bit of a meddle- 
some pest, but make no mistake 
about it, every politician in the uni- 
verse trembles in his boots at the 
very mention of the D.T.'s. And 
she likes you, Johnny." 

"Thanks, Hap," he said as we 
came to a stop before the doorway 
of the hotel. "I'll see you before 
your ship takes off. Oh — ah — you 


won't tell her she covered up the 
wrong — well what she would think 
was the wrong part?" 

"I could have told her that last 
night," I said. 

He walked away with that star- 
tled, incredulous look he'd worn 
ever since our arrival. 

ON EARTH Aunt Mattie had 
to rush off to a convention of 
D.T.'s, where I had no doubt her 
latest exploit in combating ignor- 
ance and sin would be the main 
topic of conversation and add to 
the triumph of her lionization. To 
give her credit, I think this lioniza- 
tion bothered her, embarrassed her 
a little, and she probably wondered 
at times if it were all sincere. But 
I also think she would have been 
lonely and disappointed without it. 
When one is doing all he can to 
make the universe we have inher- 
ited a better place for our posterity 
to inherit one likes it to be ap- 

For two or three weeks after she 
came back home, she was immersed 
in administrative duties for the 
D.T., setting wheels in motion to 
carry out all the promises she'd 
made at the convention, 

I spent the time in my own suite 
in the south wing of our house. 
Mostly, I just sat. No one bothered 
me except the servants necessary to 
eating, dressing, sleeping, and they 
were all but mute about it. My 
psychiatrist called once, but I sent 
word that I didn't need any today. 
I called none of my regular friends 
and did not answer their messages. 

I did send to the Library of 


Science in Washington for the orig- 
inal science survey report on Ca- 
pella IV. It told me little, but al- 
lowed me to surmise some things. 
Apparently the original scientists 
were singularly uncurious about the 
octopoids, perhaps because they 
didn't have five years to hang 
around and wait for one to blink 
an eye, as Johnny had. As always, 
they were overworked and under- 
staffed, they did their quick survey 
and rushed on to some new planet 
job. If one hoped that someday 
somebody might go back and take 
another look at the octopoids I 
found no burning yearning for it 
in the dry reports. 

As far as they went, their sur- 
mise was accurate. Some millions, 
many millions of years ago, the 
planet had lost the last of its ocean 
water. Apparently, as they failed to 
adapt to the increasing salinity of 
the little left, one by one the or- 
iginal life forms died out. Some- 
thing in the octopoid metabolism 
(or mentality?) allowed them to 
survive, to become land instead of 
water animals. Something in their 
metabolism (or mentality?) al- 
lowed them to subsist on the air 
and sunlight. (Really now? Did 
they even need these?) That was 
as far as the reports went. 

They did not draw the picture of 
highly developed mentalities who 
lay there for millions of years and 
thought about the nature of being. 
Such things as how mental ma- 
nipulation of force fields can pro- 
vide each of them with a cigarette 
lighter that burns without any fluid 
in it and any oxygen around its 
wick, or such things as mother hub- 


bards which had caught their fancy, 
or perhaps gave them some kind of 
sensual kick caused by heat filtering 
through red cloth. 

But mostly I just sat. 

I went to see Aunt Mattie when 
she came back from the convention, 
of course. She had the west wing 
where her sitting room looked out 
upon her flora collection — and the 
gardeners who were supposed to 
keep busy. Our greeting was fond, 
but brief. She did look at me rather 
quizzically, rather shrewdly, but she 
made no comment. She did not re- 
turn my visit. 

This was not unusual. She never 
visited my suite. When I was twen- 
ty-one she took me into the south 
wing and said, "Choose your own 
suite, Hapland. You are a man 
now, and I understand about 
young men." If she had in mind 
what I thought she had it was a 
mighty big concession to reality, 
although, of course, she was five 
years late in coming around to it. 

This older generation — so wise, 
so naive. She probably resolutely 
refrained from imagining far worse 
things than really went on. 

About two weeks after she'd 
come back from the convention, a 
month since we returned from Cap- 
ella IV, there was an interruption, 
an excited one. For once in his life 
the butler forgot to touch my door 
with feather fingertips and cough 
discreetly. Instead he knocked two 
sharp raps, and opened the door 
without invitation. 

"Come quickly. Master Hap- 
land," he chittered urgently. "There 
are creatures on our private landing 


There were, too. 

When I got there in my garden 
scooter, and pushed my way 
through the crowd of gardeners 
who were clustered on the path 
and around the gate to the landing 
field, I saw them. At least a dozen 
of the Capella IV octopoids were 
spread eagled, their tentacles out 
flat on the hot cement of the run- 
way. Their eye stared unblinkirig 
into the sun. Over their spread of 
tentacles, like inverted hibiscus blos- 
soms, they wore their mother hub- 

Behind them, over at the far edge 
of the field, was an exact duplicate 
of our own space yacht. I won- 
dered, rather hysterically perhaps, 
if each of them on Capella IV now 
had one. I suspected the yacht was 
simply there for show, that they 
hadn't needed it, not any more than 
they needed the mother hubbards. 

There was the hiss of another 
scooter, and I turned around to see 
Aunt Mattie come to a stop. She 
stepped out and came over to me. 

"Our social call on Capella IV 
is being returned," I said with a 
grin and twinkle at her. 

She took in the sight with only 
one blink. 

"Very well," she answered. "I 
shall receive them, of course." 
Somebody once said that the most 
snobbish thing about the whole 
tribe of Tombs was that they'd 
never learned the meaning of the 
word, or had to. But I did wonder 
what the servants would think when 
the creatures started slithering into 
our drawing room. 

There was a gasp and a low 
rumble of protesting voices from 


the gardeners as Aunt Mattie 
opened the gate and walked 
through it. I followed, of course. 
We walked up to the nearest mon- 
ster and came to stop at the edge 
of its skirt. 

"I'm deeply honored," Aunt 
Mattie said with more cordiality 
than I'd seen her use on a Secre- 
tary of State. "What can I do to 
make your visit to Earth more com- 

There was no reply, not even the 
flicker of a tentacle. 

They were even more unusual 
than one might expect. Aunt Mat- 
tie resolutely went to each of the 
dozen and gave the same greeting. 
She felt her duty as a hostess re- 
quired it, although I knew that a 
greeting to one was a greeting to 
all. Not one of them responded. It 
seemed rather ridiculous. They'd 
come all this way to see us, then 
didn't bother to acknowledge that 
we were there. 

We spent more than an hour 
waiting for some kind of a response. 
None came. Aunt Mattie showed 
no sign of impatience, which I 
thought was rather praiseworthy, 
all things considered. But finally 
we left. She didn't show what she 
felt, perhaps felt only that one had 
to be patient with the lack of 
manners in the lower orders. 

I was more interested in another 
kind of feeling, the one we left 
behind. What was it? I couldn't 
put my finger on it. Sadness? Re- 
gret? Distaste? Pity? Magnanimity? 
Give a basket of goodies to the poor 
at Christmas? Give them some 
clothes to cover their nakedness? 
Teach them a sense of shame? 


No, I couldn't put my finger on 


I found myself regretting that 
back there on Capella IV, when 
Aunt Mattie put clothes on him, 
and the monster had looked at 
me, I winked. 

I wondered why I should re- 
gret that. 

I didn't have long to wonder. 

Nothing happened during the 
rest of the day. W,e went back, to- 
gether and separately, several times 
during the daylight hours and dur- 
ing the early hours of the night. 
For a wonder, nobody had leaked 
anything to the newspapers, and 
for what it was worth, we had the 
show to ourselves. 

"Perhaps tomorrow," Aunt Mat- 
tie said around midnight, as we 
left the field for the last time. "Per- 
haps they must rest." 

"I could use some of that," I 
said with a yawn. 

"Yes, Hapland," she agreed. "We 
must conserve our strength. Heaven 
knows what may be required of us 
on the morrow." 

Did she feel something, too? It 
was so strong, how could she help 
it? And yet, the monster had not 
looked into her eye. 

I didn't expect to sleep well, but 
I fooled myself. I was quite sure I 
hadn't more than closed my eyes 
when I was roused by another ex- 
cited rapping on my bedroom door 
and again the butler rushed in with- 
out ceremony. 

"Look, Master Hapland," he 
shouted in a near falsetto. 

He pulled so hard on my drapes 


they swept back from my windows 
like a stage curtain — and I looked. 

To the very limit of our grounds 
in the distance, but not beyond, the 
trees, the shrubs, the drives and 
walkways, the lawns and ponds, all 
were covered with a two foot thick 
blanket of glistening salt. 

"And the monsters are gone," 
the butler was saying. "And I must 
go to your aunt." 

"So must I," I said, and grabbed 
up a robe. 

As I ran, overtook him, passed 
him, from all over the house I 
could hear excited outcries, wonder, 
amazement, anger, fear from the 
servants. I finished the length of 
my wing, sprinted through the main 
body of the house, and down the 
hallway of her wing to the door of 
her suite. I didn't need to knock, 
someone had left it open. 

Her own personal maid, I saw, 
as I ran past the little alcove into 
the sitting room. The maid was 
standing beside Aunt Mattie, wring- 
ing her hands and crying. The 
drapes here, too, were swept full 
back, and, through the windows I 
could see the collection, the highly 
prized, wondrous collection of 
flora, all covered in salt. 

Aunt Mattie stood there, without 
support, looking at it. When I came 
up to her there were tears in her 
eyes and glistening streaks on her 
wrinkled cheeks. 

"Why?" she asked. It was very 
quietly spoken. 

By now the butler had made the 
trip, and came into the room. I 
turned to him. 

"If we hurry," I said. "A good 
deal of the collection is enclosed 

under plastic domes. If we don't 
wet the salt, and if we hurry and 
have it scraped away from the 
buildings it won't poison the ground 
inside them. We can save most of 
the collection that way." 

"No, Master Hapland," he said, 
and shook his head. "The salt is 
inside the buildings, just as much 
as here. A gardener shouted it at 
me as I passed." 

Aunt Mattie's closed fist came up 
to her lips, and then dropped again. 
That was all. 

"Why, Hapland?" she asked 
again. "Evil for good? Why?" 

I motioned the maid and butler 
to leave — and take with them the 
cluster of servants around the door 
in the hall. I took Aunt Mattie over 
to her favorite chair, the one where 
she could sit and look out at her 
collection; no point in pretending 
the salt wasn't there. I sat down 
at her feet, the way I used to when 
I was ten years old. I looked out at 
the salt, too. It was everywhere. 
Every inch of our grounds was 
covered with it, to poison the earth 
so that nothing could grow in it. 
It would take years to restore the 
grounds, and many more years to 
restore the collection. 

"Try to understand, Aunt Mat- 
tie," I said. "Not only what I say, 
but all the implications of it. They 
didn't return evil for good. Let's 
see it from what might have been 
their point of view. They live on 
a world of salt, an antiseptic world. 
We went there, and you intended 
good. You told them that our code 
was to do unto others as we would 
have them do unto us. 

(Continued on page 112) 



They came home from a strange journey . . . And heroes they 
might have been — a little dog and a man! 

lUustTaUd by Ed Emsh 


CAROL stared glumly at the ship-to-shore trans- 
mitter. "I hate being out here in the middle of 
the Caribbean with no radio communication. Can't 
you fix it?" 

"This is a year for sun spots, and transmission 

usually gets impossible 
around dusk," Bill ex- 
plained. "It will be all 
right in the morning. 
If you want to listen 
to the radio, you can 
use the portable radio directional finder. That al- 
ways works." 

"I want to catch the 5 o'clock news and hear the 
latest on our satellite," Carol replied. She went to 




the RDF and switched it on to the 
standard broadcast channel. "Any- 
how, I'd feel better if we could put 
out a signal. The way we're limping 
along with water in our gas is no 
fun. It will take us twenty hours to 
get back to Nassau the way we're 
losing RPM'S." 

Bill Anderson looked at his 
youi^, pretty wife and smiled. 
"You're behaving like a tenderfoot. 
We've plenty of gas, a good boat 
and perfect weather. Tomorrow 
morning I'll clean out our carbu- 
retors and we'll pick up speed. 
Meantime, we're about to enter one 
of the prettiest harbors in the Ba- 
hamas, throw over anchor ..." 

The RDF drowned him out. 

"The world is anxiously await- 
ing return of the chamber from the 
world's first manned satellite 
launched by the United States ten 
days ago. The world also awaits the 
answers to two questions: Is there 
any chance that Robert Joy, the 
volunteer scientist who went up in 
the satellite, is still living? There 
seems to be little hope for his sur- 
vival since radio communication 
from him stopped three days ago. 
Timing mechanism for the ejection 
of Joy are set for tonight. And that's 
the second question. Will the satel- 
lite, still in its orbit, eject the cham- 
ber containing Joy? Will it eject the 
chamber as scheduled, and will the 
chamber arrive back at earth at the 
designated place? 

"There are many 'ifs' to this proj- 
ect which is shrouded in secrecy. 
The President himself has assured 
us of a free flow of news once the 
chamber has been recovered, and 
this station will be standing by to 

bring you a full report," 

Carol switched the radio off. "Do 
you think he's alive?" She sup- 
pressed a shudder. "God! Think of 
a human being up there in that 

"Well, the dog lived for several 
days. It was just a question of get- 
ting it back, which the Russians 
couldn't do. I don't know about 
Joy. He sounded real cheerful and 
healthy until his broadcasts 
stopped." Bill peered into the fad- 
ing twilight. "Come on now, let's 
put our minds to getting the hook 

They concentrated on the tricky 
entrance to the lee side of Little 
Harbor Cay. It meant finding and 
passing a treacherous coral head 
north of the adjoining Frozen Cay. 
Little Harbor Cay was midway in 
the chain of the Berry Islands which 
stretched to the north like beads in 
a necklace. 

"There's the cove," called Carol. 
About a mile of coastline ahead was 
the small native settlement. Once 
the center of a thriving sponge in- 
dustry, the island was now prac- 
tically deserted. A handful of small 
cottages, a pile of conch shells on 
the beach and two fishing smacks 
gave evidence of a remaining, 
though sparse, population. 

Dusk was rapidly approaching 
and Carol strained her eyes against 
the failing light. Bill heard her call 
his name and saw her pointing — not 
ahead to their anchorage, but 
amidships and toward the sky. He 
turned his eyes to where she was 
indicating and saw a dullish object 
in the sky, some thousand feet up. 
The object seemed to be falling 


leisurely towards earth. 

"What in the world is that?" 
asRed Bill. "It's not a bird, that's 
for sure." 

The object seemed to be para- 
chuting, not falling. The breezes 
were blowing it towards the island. 
Before they could study it further, 
it was lost in the lowering dusk and 
darkness of the shore line. 

"Looks like a ball on a para- 
chute," Bill finally said. However, 
the business at hand was to make 
secure the Seven Seas and together 
they spent the next quarter hour 

After "setting the hook" secure- 
ly, Carol and Bill donned swim 
suits, dove overboard and swam 
lazily the 300 yards in to shore. 

"Let's try to find that thing we 
saw. It shouldn't be too far from 
here," said Carol the moment they 
hit the beach. 

They climbed inland on the rocky 
island. Little green lizards scooted 
underfoot and vines scratched at 
their ankles. 

Bill was leading, when suddenly 
he called, "Carol, I see something 
up ahead! There's something lying 
on the ground!" He hurried toward 
what he had seen. 

The dying sun reflected on a 
luminescent bolt of cloth, somewhat 
like a spun-aluminum fabric. Thin 
wire lines were entangling it, and 
about ten feet away lay three frag- 
ments of what appeared to have 
been a dull metal box. 

Carol knelt at the closest piece, 
evidently a corner of the box. It 
was lined with wiring and tubes. 

"It looks like electronic equip- 
ment," decided Carol, peering in- 

tently at the strange piece. Bill had 
approached the second and largest 

He carefully turned it over. It 
was filled wi^ black and yellow 
. . . fur? 

"Oh no!" he cried, knowing in 
a flash, yet denying it in his mind 
at the same time. Stunned he stared 
at the perky ears, the dull staring 
and unseeing eyes, the leather 
thongs that held the head and body 
of a dog to the metal encasement. 
Carol saw it the next instant. 

"It's some horrible joke!" she 
gasped. "It couldn't be the second 
Russian satellite, it couldn't be 
Muttnik! My God, no, it couldn't 

Bill kept staring, his thoughts 
racing. There were rumors of an 
ejection chamber for Muttnik. But 
they had been denied by the Rus- 
sians. But suppose the Russians had 
planned an ejection chamber for 
the dog Laika when they launched 
the satellite and had only denied it 
after they thought it had failed? 

But if it had worked, why had it 
taken so long to find its way to 
earth? The satellite itself was sup- 
posed to have disintegrated months 

"Damn," thought Bill. "I wish I 
were a scientist right now instead 
of a know-nothing artist!" 

He touched the dog with his toe. 
It was perfectly preserved, as 
though it had died, just a few hours 
before. It was rigid, but it had not 
started to decompose. 

"Carol, are we crazy? Is this 
some dream, or do you believe we 
are looking at the ejection chamber 
of the Russian satellite?" he asked, 


doubting even what he was saying. 

"I don't know." Carol was wide- 
eyed. "But what shall we do now? 
We'd better contact the authorities 

Bill tried to keep reason from 
overcoming his disbelief of their 

"But how, Carol? Our radio 
transmitter isn't working. It won't 
till morning. And there's certainly 
no other way to communicate with 
anyone. We can't even take the boat 
anywhere with the speed we're mak- 
ing. We'll have to wait till morn- 

"What shall we do with the 
dog?" asked Carol. "Do you think 
we ought to bury it?" 

"Lord no, Carol. The body of 
the dog will be extremely valuable 
to science. We've got to get some- 
one here as quickly as possible." Bill 
was trying to steady his nerves. 

"Let's go back and try to raise 
someone on the radio. Let's try 
again, it may work," called Carol, 
running in the direction of the boat. 
Bill followed her. They stumbled 
on the craggy rocks and exposed 
sea grape roots, but together in the 
darkness they struck out for the 

Bill was first aboard and went di- 
rectly to the ship-to-shore radio. 

"Try the Nassau marine operator 
first," Carol panted as she clam- 
bered aboard. "He's a lot closer to 
us than Miami." 

As the receiver warmed up, static 
filled the cabin. Bill depressed the 
transmitting button. "This is the 
Yacht Seven Seas calling the Nas- 
sau Marine operator," he called in- 
to the phone. Only static answered. 


"Bill!" Carol said in sudden in- 
spiration. "Give a May Day. Try 
every channel with a May Day. If 
anyone picks up a May Day call 
you'll get emergency action." 

"May Day, May Day! This is the 
Yacht Seven Seas. Come in any- 
one!" Bill called urgently into the 
mouthpiece. He switched to the 
Coast Guard channel, then to the 
Miami Marine operators channel. 
Only static filled the cabin. No wel- 
come voice acknowledged their dis- 
tress call. Bill flipped the switch 
desperately to the two ship-to-ship 
channels. "May Day! Come in any 
boat!" Still static. Nothing but 

IT WAS night. A night without 
a moon. The island loomed dark 
against the black waters. The dark 
was relieved only by a small fire 
burning at the native settlement a 
half-mile down the coast, and the 
cabin lights of the Seven Seas. 

"What will we do now?" Carol 
tried to sound unconcerned, but her 
voice sounded thin and wavering. 

"I don't know what we can do, 
except wait until daybreak. I'm sure 
we can get a signal out then," Bill 
replied, clamly as he could. He 
hoped she couldn't hear the pound- 
ing of his heart. 

"What about the dog?" she 
asked. "Will it be all right there? 
Should we bring it aboard?" 

"We better leave everything un- 
touched. Our best bet is to get some 
sleep and place our call as soon as 
day breaks." 

Neither of them could eat much 
supper and after putting the dishes 


away, they made up their bunks and 
climbed in. After a very few min- 
utes. Bill handed a lighted ciga- 
rette across the narrow chasm be- 
tween the bunks. 

"I can't sleep. My head is spin- 
ning. Do you really believe that's 
what we've found?" Carol's voice 
sounded small. 

"Yes, I do. I believe we've found 
the Russian ejection unit, complete 
with the dog Laika and instrumen- 

They lay quietly, the glow of two 
cigarettes occasionally reflecting on 
the bulkhead. Bill finally arose. 

"I can't think of another thing 
but what's sitting out there on Little 
Harbor Cay!" He walked up to the 
main cabin and switched on the 
RDF. For a few minutes there was 
music, and then: 

"Flash! The United States Gov- 
ernment has just officially released 
the news that at 10:09 p.m. East- 
ern Standard Time the U. S. Satel- 
lite ejection chamber was success- 
fully returned to earth at the desig- 
nated location. This was some six 
hours earlier than expected. The 
chamber, into which Robert Joy 
voluntarily had himself strapped, 
has landed at an undisclosed site 
and is being raced under heavy 
guard to the Walter Reed Hospital 
at Washington, D. C. There is no 
hope that Joy is still living. Word 
has just been released by Dr. James 
R. Killian that instruments meas- 
uring Joy's pulse rate indicated 
three days ago that all Joy's bodily 
processes ceased to function at that 
time. We repeat, all hope of the 
survival of Robert Joy is now aban- 
doned as the result of scientific data 


just released by Dr. Killian. 

"The satellite is being brought 
intact to Walter Reed Hospital and 
leading physiologists and scientists 
are racing to the scene to be on 
hand for the opening of the unit 
scheduled for 6 a.m. tomorrow 
morning. Further reports will be 
given as received. This station will 
remain on the air all night. Stay 
tuned for further developments. We 
repeat, the U. S. satellite's ejection 
chamber, containing the first hu- 
man being ever to go into space, 
has been successfully returned to 
earth as predicted, though all hope 
has been abandoned for the survival 
of Robert Joy, the man in the 
moon. The chamber will be 
opened for scientific study tomor- 
row morning. Stay tuned for further 

Bill tuned down the music that 
ensued and returned to his bunk. 
"You heard that Carol?" He knew 
she wasn't asleep. 

"Yes. And it makes this whole 
thing that we've found seem more 
plausible. I've been lying here trying 
to make myself believe it's some 
sort of dream, but it isn't. If we 
could only . . ." Carol's voice faded 
softly into the night. 

There was absolutely nothing 
they could do. Nothing but lie there 
and smoke and pretend to sleep. 
They didn't talk much, and keenly 
felt the terrible frustration of their 
enforced silence on the ship-to- 
shore. They heard several more 
news reports and several analyses of 
the news, but nothing new was 
added throughout the night. The 
radio only reiterated that the ejec- 
tion unit had been recovered, that 


hope had faded for Joy's survival 
and that the chamber was to be 
opened in the morning as soon as 
scientists had convened in Washing- 

DAWN, long in coming, broke 
about 4:30. With the lifting of 
the dark, the sun spots which inter- 
ferred with radio reception miracu- 
lously lifted also. Bill and Carol sat 
next to the ship-to-shore and turned 
it on. This time they heard the re- 
assuring hum of the transmitter, not 
drowned out by the awful static of 
the night before. Bill switched to 
the Coast Guard channel. 

"May Day. May Day. This is the 
Seven Seas calling the United States 
Coast Guard. Come in please!" 

And a voice, almost miraculous- 
ly, answered, "This is the U. S. 
Coast Guard. Come in Seven Seas. 
What is your position? Come in 
Seven Seas." 

"This is the yacht Seven Seas 
back to the Coast Guard. We are 
located at the Berry Islands at Little 
Harbor Cay. We want to report the 
discovery of what we believe to be 
the second Russian satellite." 

"This is the Coast Guard to the 
Seven Seas. Do we read you cor- 
rectly? Are you reporting discovery 
of the Russian satellite? Please clar- 
ify. Over." A stern voice crackled 
through the speaker. 

"Last evening on entering the 
harbor here we saw an object fall 
to the ground. On inspection, it was 
a metal box which was broken apart 
on impact. In it are electronic 
equipment and the body of a small 
dog. Over." Bill tried to be calm 


and succinct. 

"Coast Guard to Seven Seas. Is 
your boat in distress? Over." 

"No, no! Did you read me about 
the Russian satellite?" asked Bill, 
impatience in his voice. 

"Will you state your name and 
address. Will you state the master's 
full name, and the call letters and 
registration of your craft. Over," 
crackled the voice from the speaker. 

"Oh my lord, we're not going to 
have red tape at a time like this, 
are we?" Carol asked exasperatedly. 

"This is Bill Anderson of Ft. 
Lauderdale, owner and skipper. 
Our call letters are William George 
3176, Coast Guard registration 
#235-46-5483. What are your in- 
structions regarding dog satellite?" 

"Please stand by." 

Bill and Carol stared at each 
other while the voice on the radio 
was silent. 

"This is the United States Coast 
Guard calling the yacht Seven 

"Seven Seas standing by." 

"We wish to remind you that it 
is illegal and punishable by fine 
and or imprisonment to issue false 
reports to the Coast Guard. We are 
investigating your report and wish 
you to stand by." 

"Investigating our report?" Bill 
fairly shouted into the phone. 
"Good God, man! The thing to in- 
vestigate is here, laying in three 
pieces on the middle of Little Har- 
bor Cay. This is no joke." Despite 
the emotion in Bill's voice, the an- 
swer came back routine and cold, 
"Please stand by. We will call you. 
Do not, we repeat, do not rnake 
further contact anywhere. Please 


stand by. Coast Guard standing by 
with the Seven Seas." 

"Seven Seas standing by," shout- 
ed Bill, almost apoplectic, his face 
reddening in anger. 

"Now what? It looks like they're 
going to take their time in believing 
us. At least until they find out who 
we are and if we're really here," 
said Carol. 

Bill paced the deck in frustra- 
tion. Suddenly he decided, "Carol, 
you stick with the radio. I'm going 
ashore again and take another look 
at our Muttnik. It seems so incredi- 
ble that I'm not even sure of what 
I saw last night. Once they believe 
us they'll want to know as much 
about it as we can tell them." Bill 
hurriedly put on his swim suit and 
heard Carol shout as he dove over- 
board, "Hurry back. Bill. I don't 
like you leaving me here alone!" 

Bill swam with sure even strokes 
to the shore where they had gone 
last night. The water felt cool. It 
soothed his nerves which jangled in 
the excitement of the discovery and 
in the anger at the disbelieving au- 
thorities. He reached shallow water 
and waded towards shore. 

Suddenly he stopped dead, his 
ankles in five inches of water. His 
eyes stared ahead in disbelief. His 
brain was numbed. Only his eyes 
were alive, staring, wide in horror. 
Finally his brain pieced together 
the image that his vision sent to it. 
Pieced it together but made no 
comprehension of it. 

His brain told him that there was 
a blanket of fur laying unevenly 
twenty feet back from the shore 
line. A blanket of yellow and black 
fur . . . covering the earth, covering 


mangrove roots, fitted neatly around 
the bent pakn tree trunks, lying 
over the rocks that had cut his feet 
last night . . . smothering, suffocat- 
ing . . . hugging the earth. 

Bill shut his eyes, and still the 
vision kept shooting to his brain. 
All yellow and black and fuzzy, 
with trees or a tall mangrove bush 
or a sea grape vine sticking up here 
and there. 

He opened his eyes and wanted 
to run, for the scene was still there. 
It hadn't disappeared as a night- 
mare disappears when you wake up. 
Thick yellow and black fur lay on 
the ground like dirty snow. Cover- 
ing everything low, hugging the 
base of taller things. 

"Run!" his mind told him. Yet 
he stood rooted to the spot, staring 
at the carpet of fur near him. It was 
only ten feet away. Ten feet? His 
every muscle jumped. The lock that 
had held his muscles and brain in 
a tight vice gave loose and a flood 
of realization hit him. "It's mov- 
ing!" he realized in horror. "It's 



AS HE WATCHED, slowly, slow- 
ly, as the petals of a morning 
glory unfold before the eye, the yel- 
low and black fur carpet stretched 
itself in ever-increasing perimeter. 
He saw it approach a rock near 
the beach. The mind, when con- 
fronted with a huge shock, some- 
how concentrates itself on a small 
detail. Perhaps it tries to absorb it- 
self in a small thing because the 
whole thing is too great to compre- 
hend all at once. So with Bill's 
mind. He saw the yellow and black 


fur grow toward the rock. It seemed 
to ooze around it and then up and 
over the top of it. Bill saw, when it 
reached the top of the rock, that it 
dropped a spiny tendril to the 
ground. Like a root, the tendril 
buried itself into the earth below 
the jutting rock, and slowly the rock 
was covered with the flowing fur. 

Bill's thoughts sped ahead of his 
reason. The dog. The dog . . . 
growing like a plant. Its hide cov- 
ering the ground, putting out roots, 
suffocating everything, smothering 
everything, growing, growing. 

With almost superhuman effort, 
he turned his back on the awful 
sight and swam desperately out to 
the Seven Seas. 

"Bill, what's happened?" cried 
Carol, when she saw his white and 
terrified face. 

"Carol . . . the dog ... it must 
have had some cosmic reaction to 
its cellular structure ... some can- 
cerous reaction . . . when the cham- 
ber broke open and the cells were 
exposed to our atmosphere again 
it started some action . . . started to 
grow . . . doesn't stop growing . . . 
it's horrible . . ." Bill's words were 
disjointed and hysterical. 

Carol stared at him. "Bill, what 
are you saying?" Bill pointed mute- 
ly to the shore. Carol rushed to the 
cockpit. She stared at the island. 
She ran back to the cabin where 
Bill was sitting, holding his head 
in his hands. She grabbed the binoc- 
ulars from the bookshelf and turned 
them to the island. 

"Bill! It's ... oh no! The whole 
island looks as though it's covered 
with . . . fur!" She screamed. 

Bill grabbed the binoculars and 


ranged the island with them. A 
quarter of a mile down he could 
see small figures in the water, 
floundering around, climbing 
aboard the two fishing smacks. All 
around, the black and yellow 
mounds of fur carpeted the pretty 
green island with a soft rug of yel- 
low and black. 

"Get the Coast Guard, Carol!" 
"They called back while you were 
gone. They're sending a plane over 

"Call them, Carol!" Bill shouted 
at her. "Don't you realize what this 
could mean? Don't you realize that 
something, only God knows what, 
has happened to tlie cellular struc- 
ture of this animal, has turned it 
into a voracious plant-like thing 
that seems to grow and grow once 
it hits our atmosphere? Don't you 
realize that today they're going to 
open that satellite, that other one, 
in Washington? Suppose this is 
what happens when living tissue is 
exposed to cosmic rays or whatever 
is up there. Don't you see what 
could happen?" Bill was hoarse 
from fright and shouting. "Smother 
everything, grow and grow and 
smother . . ." 

Carol was at the ship-to-shore, 
"What time is it, Carol?" 
"I don't know. 5:30 I guess." 
"They plan to open the ejection 
chamber at six. We've got to tell 
them what happened here before 
they open it! Hurry with the 
damned Coast Guard!" 

"May Day! May Day! Coast 
Guard come in. This is the Seven 
Seas. Come in and hurry!" 

"Coast Guard to the Seven Seas. 
Come in." 


Bill grabbed the phone. "Listen 
caxefully," he said in a quiet deter- 
mined voice. "This is (jod's own 
truth. I repeat: This is God's own 
truth. The remains of the dog we 
discovered last night have started to 
grow. It is growing as we look at it. 
It has covered the entire island as 
far as we can see, with fur. Stinking 
yellow and black fur. We've got to 
get word to Washington before 
they open up the satellite. The same 
thing could happen there. Do you 
understand? I must get in touch 
with Washington. Immediately!" 

There was no mistaking the ur- 
gency and near-panic in Bill's voice. 
The Coast Guard returned with 
"We understand you Seven Seas. 
We will clear a line directly to Dr. 
Killian in Washington. Stand by." 

With his hand shaking, Bill 
turned on the standard broadcast 
band of the portable RDF. A voice 
cut in: ". . . latest reports from 
Walter Reed General Hospital 
where the first human-manned 
satellite ejection chamber has just 
been opened. All leading physiolo- 

gists and physicists were assembled 
at the hospital by midnight last 
night and plans to open the ejec- 
tion chamber at 6 a.m. this morning 
were moved up. The chamber was 
opened at 4 a.m. Eastern Standard 
Time today. Our first report con- 
firmed that volunteer moon travel- 
ler, the man in the moon, Robert 
Joy, was no longer alive. Hope had 
been abandoned for him some 80 
hours previous, when recording in- 
struments on his body processes 
indicated no reactions. Of scientific 
curiosity is the fact that though 
dead for more than three days, his 
body is in a perfect state of preser- 
vation . . . 

"Flash! We interrupt this special 
newscast for a late bulletin: The 
body of Robert Joy has begun to 
shoot out unexplained appendages, 
like rapidly growing cancerous 
growths. His integument appears to 
be enlarging, growing away from 
his body . . ." 

"Hello Seven Seas," broke in the 
ship-to-shore. "We are still trying 
to locate Dr. Killian ..." END 


An exciting new novelette about a group of political 
refugees and one man who stopped running . . . 


By Robert Silverberg 

ALSO — one of the funniest sports stories you ever read — Who's 
On First, by Lloyd Biggie, Jr., in which a super, "out-of-this- 

world" team amazes and startles the world of baseball, 
other unusual science fiction entertainment. 


I .'^••^''^•^^'^-•^•■■^'•^'•^^^■•^^^■'^^■■^■■^''^^^•■•^•■■^y^'-'^'^"-^-^''^^'^-'^^ 


What is more frightening 

than the fear of the un- 

known? Johnny found out! 




THE DAY was still no more 
than a ragged streak of red in 
the east; the pre-dawn air was 
sharply cold, making Johnny 
Youngbear's face feel slightly brittle 
as he dressed quietly in the gray 

He sat down on the bed, pulling 
on his boots, and felt his wife stir 

Illustrated by Ed Emsh 


sleepily beneath the covers. Sud- 
denly she stiffened, sat upright in 
the bed, startled into wakefulness. 
Johnny put one dark, bony hand 
on her white shoulder, gently, reas- 
suring. After a moment, finding 
herself, she turned away and lit a 
cigarette. Johnny finished pulling 
on his boots and stood, his hawk- 
like face unreadable in the cold 
gray light streaming through the 
huge picture window. 

"Johnny?" said his wife hesitant- 


He murmured an acknowledge- 
ment, watching the bright flare of 
color as she drew on the cigarette. 
Her soft, dark hair was coiled loose- 
ly around her shoulders, very black 
against the pale skin. Her eyes were 
invisible in shadow, and Johnny 
could not read their expression. He 
turned away, knowing she was 
watching him. 

"Be careful/' she said simply. 

"Try," he said. Then he 
shrugged. "Not my day, anyway." 

"I know," she said. "But — be 

He left the house and walked out 
into the chill desert dawn. He 
turned his face to the brightness in 
the east, trying to catch a little 
warmth, but could not. 

He warmed up the jeep, listen- 
ing to the engine grumble protest 
until it settled to a flat, banging 
roar. He swerved out of the drive- 
way with a screaming of tires. 
Reaching the long ribbon of con- 
crete that led out into the desert, 
he settled down hard on the accel- 
erator, indiflferent to the whining 
complaint of the jeep's motor. 

It was eight miles from his 


sprawling house to the Mesa Dry 
Lake launching site, due east, into 
the sun. He pulled to the top of Six 
Mile Hill and stopped in the middle 
of the highway. Two miles ahead 
was Launching Base I, throwing 
long, sharp shadows at him in the 
rosy dawn light. A cluster of squat, 
gray blockhouses; a long runway 
tapering into the distance with an 
Air Force B-52 motionless at the 
near end ; that was all. 

Except the Ship. 

The Ship towered high, dominat- 
ing the desert like a pinnacle of 
bright silver. Even silhouetted 
against the eastern sky, it sparkled 
and glistened. Impassive it stood, 
graceful, seeming to strain into the 
sky, anxious to be off and gone. The 
loading gantry was a dark, spidery 
framework beside The Ship, lean- 
ing against it, drawing strength 
from its sleek beauty. 

Johnny watched it in silence for 
a moment, then turned his eyes up, 
to the sky. Somewhere up there a 
tiny satellite spun wildly about the 
earth, a little silver ball in some 
celestial roulette wheel. Gradually 
it would spiral closer and closer, 
caught by the planet's implacable 
grasp, until it flared brightly like a 
cigarette in the heavens before dis- 
solving into drops of molten metal. 

But it would have served its pur- 
pose. In its short life it would have 
given Man knowledge; knowledge 
of space, knowledge enough that he 
could go himself, knowing what he 
would find in the emptiness be- 
tween the earth and the moon. Or 
knowing nearly. 

What's it like out there? 

The satellite answered partly; 


the Ship would answer more. 

Johnny slammed the jeep into 
gear, hurtled down the other side 
of Six Mile Hill. Through his mind 
ran the insistent repetition of an old 
song he knew, and he hummed it 
tunelessly through closed teeth. 

/ had a true wife but I left her 
. . . oh, oh, oh. 

The jeep skidded to a halt beside 
Control. Mitch Campbell's green 
station wagon was already there, 
creaking and settling as the motor 

Control was full of people; Air 
Force brass, technicians, observers, 
enlisted men of indiscernible pur- 
pose. The room hummed with the 
muted buzz of low, serious conver- 

Mitch Campbell sat in one cor- 
ner, apparently forgotten in the 
confusion. He had nothing to do. 
Not yet. He was already in flight 
dress, holding the massive helmet in 
his hands morosely, turning it over 
and over, staring at it as though he 
thought he might find his head in- 
side if he looked carefully enough. 

"Morning, Colonel," said John- 
ny, forcing his voice to be casual 
and cheerful. "You're up early this 


"Morning, Colonel yourself," said 
Mitch, looking up. 

"Big date today?" 

"Well — yeah, you might say so," 
Mitch said, smiling faintly and with 
obvious effort. "Thought I might 
go once around lightly," he said, 
hooking his thumb upwards. Up- 
wards through the concrete ceiling, 
into the air, through the air, up 
where there was no air for a man 
to breathe. Once around lightly, 


Around the world. Lightly. 

"Tell you what, Mitch." 

"O.K., tell me what," he said. 

"You like the movies?" Johnny 
asked. "You like to get a little ad- 
venture in your soul? You like a lit- 
tle vicarious thrill now and then?" 

"Yeah, I like that." 

"Tell you what. We'll go. No, 
don't thank me. We'll go. Tonight. 
Eight o'clock, you come by." 

"Wives and everybody?" Mitch 

"Why not?" Johnny said. 
"They're cooped up in the house 
all day." 

They both knew the wives would 
be in Control in an hour, listening 
to the radio chatter, waiting, eyes 
wide, shoulders stifi" and tight. 

"Fine," said Mitch. "Fine." 

A crew chief came up and 
touched Johnny's shoulder. "Colo- 
nel Youngbear," he said, "Observa- 
tion is going up." 

Johnny stood and looked out the 
tiny window at the red-painted 

"See you tonight, Mitch. Eight 
o'clock? Don't forget. Westerns." 

"See you," said Mitch. He looked 
back down, at the helmet and was 
turning it over and over again 
when Johnny left. 

The Observation B-52 climbed, 

Johnny lit a cigarette and 
watched out the port at the con- 
trails rolling straight and white be- 
hind the jets. 

He sat by the radioman, a Ser- 
geant, ignoring the rest of the of- 
ficers in the converted bomb-bay. 

"Hope he makes it, Colonel," 


said the Sergeant. 

"He'll make it," Johnny said flat- 
ly, irritated. Relenting, he added in 
a gentler tone, "The pilot section 
breaks away. If he gets in serious 
trouble, he can dump it and ride 
the nose down. Like a bird. He'll 
make it." 

There was a raucous buzz, and a 
squawk box said: "On my mark it 
will be Zero minus four minutes . . . 
mark!" The voice of Control, 35,- 
000 feet below. 

The B-52 swung ponderously on- 
to the base leg of its circle, and 
there was a creaking of stretching 
metal inside. 

"Minus two minutes." Not my 
day, anyway, Johnny thought. He 
lit another cigarette. 

"Control," said a new voice, 
"This is Red Leader. Red Leader. 
Red Flight is in position." 

"Rog, Red Leader," Control ac- 
knowledged. The Observation flight 
of jet fighters was waiting, too. 

"Minus five . . . four . . . three 
. . . two . . . one . . . mark!" 


/ had a true wife but I left her 
. . oh, oh, oh. 

There was another rattle of the 
speaker, and Mitch's voice came 
through, grunting, heavy, as the ac- 
celeration of the Ship laid a heavy 
hand on his chest. 

"Acceleration . . . eight gee . . . 
controls respond." 


"There he is," someone said. A 
wavering trail of smoke was barely 
visible below, a thread of white, 
coming up fast, blown erratically 
by winds into a distorted tiny snake. 

"Altitude . . ." said Mitch's voice, 


"40,000 . . . Acceleration . . . drop- 

The white snake wriggled up to 
their level, rose above them. Johnny 
could not see the silver head. 

"Altitude . . . 65,000 ... I have a 
loud, very high buzz in my head- 
phones. I'm going to — there, it's 
gone now, went out of my range." 

His voice sounded wrong to 
Johnny, but he couldn't pin it 

"Altitude . . . 105,000. Beginning 
orbital correction. Beginning — be- 
ginning ... I can't — I'm- — I'm — " 
The voice became unintelligible. It 
was pitched very high, like a wom- 
an's, and it sounded as if his teeth 
were chattering. 

"Mitch," Johnny pleaded softly. 
"Mitch, baby, Dump it, boy, come 
on home, now. Dump it." 

There was no more from the 
speaker. A confused babble broke 
out in the bomb-bay. The Sergeant 
fiddled with his dials frantically, 
spinning across wavelengths, trying 
to find a word. The confusion 
ceased when the speaker rattled 
again, seeming hours later. 

"Uh, hello, Control, this is Red 
Three, do you read me?" One of 
the fighter flight. 

"Rog, Red Three, go ahead," 
came Control's voice from below. 

"Uh, Control, I have a flash and 
smoke cloud on a bearing of three- 
seven degrees." 

"Red Three, what altitude? 
What altitude?" 

"None," said the fighter pilot. 
"On the deck." 

After a moment, Johnny climbed 
unsteadily to his feet in the midst 
of a booming silence. He made his 


way back along the catwalk to the 
head, where he retched violently 
until the tears came to his eyes. 

THREE WEEKS later, Johnny 
sat in Doctor Lambert's office. 
He watched the lean, graying 
psychologist turn off the tape re- 
corder, watched him methodically 
tamp tobacco in his pipe. 

"That's all she wrote, Johnny," 
said Lambert, finally. "That re- 
cording of Mitch's voice is just 
about all we have. The Ship was 
under full power when it hit. There 
wasn't much left." 

Johnny looked absently out the 
window at the gleaming needle of 
Ship II beside the flimsy looking 
gantry. Full power was a lot of 

The psychologist followed John- 
ny's eyes. "Beautiful," he said, and 
the word brought to Johnny's mind 
the wide-eyed pale face of Mitch's 
wife, staring at him. 

"That Ship is the best we can 
make her," Lambert said. "Engi- 
neering is as certain as they can be 
that there was no structural failure 
on Ship I." 

"So?" Johnny said, still staring at 
the Ship. Even at this distance, he 
could almost believe he could see 
his own lean face reflected in the 
shining metal. 

"So we look somewhere else for 
the cause of failure," said Lambert. 

"Where?" said Johnny. He 
turned back, saw that the psycholo- 
gist was putting a new reel on the 
tape recorder. 

"The weak link in the control 
system," Lambert said. 


"There weren't any." 



"Mitch Campbell." 

Johnny stood, angry. "Mitch was 
good. Damn good." 

The psychologist looked up, and 
his eyes were tired. "I know it," he 
said calmly. "Listen to this." He 
started the machine playing the 
new tape. 

Johnny listened to it through. 
The voice that came out was high 
and wavering. It shook, it chat- 
tered, words were indistinguishable. 
It was thin with tension, and it 
rang in Johnny's ears with un- 
wanted familiarity. 

"What's it sound like to you?" 
Lambert asked when it had fin- 

"Like Mitch's voice," Johnny ad- 
mitted reluctantly. 

"It did to me, too. What do you 
think it is?" 

"Don't know," said Johnny short- 
ly. "Might be a pilot whose plane is 
shaking apart." 


"I don't know." 

Lambert sat back down behind 
his desk and sucked on his pipe- 
stem. He regarded Johnny impas- 
sively, seeming to consider some 
problem remote from the room. 

Abruptly, he stood again and 
went to the window,' watching the 
ant-like activity around the base of 
Ship 11. 

"That was a madman's voice," 
he said. "I made the recording 
while I was interning at a state in- 


"Mad with fear," Lambert said. 


"Pure. Simple. Unadulterated. 
That was the sound of terror you 
heard, Johnny. Terror such as few 
humans have ever known. That 
man knew such fear he could not 
remain sane and live with it." 

I had a true wife but I left her 
. . . oh, oh, oh. 

"You think Mitch—" 

"You said yourself the voices 
were alike." Lambert pointed out, 

"I don't believe it." 

"Don't have to," said Lambert, 
turning from the window. "But I'll 
tell you something, Johnny. That 
Ship — " he hooked his thumb out 
the window — "is a very big toy. 
Maybe too big." 


"Meaning it's possible we've 
reached beyond Man's limitations. 
Meaning it's possible we've built 
something too big for a man to 
handle and stay sane. Maybe we've 
finally gone too far." 


"I don't insist it's true," said the 
psychologist. "It's an idea. Fear. 
Fear of the unknowm, maybe. Too 
much fear to hold." 

"You think I'll crack?" asked 

The psychologist didn't answer 
directly. "It's an idea, as I said. I 
just wanted you to think it over." 

"I will," said Johnny. He stood 
again, his jaw held tight, "Is that 

"Yes, Colonel, that's all," said 

When Johnny left, the psycholo- 
gist sat in brooding silence, staring 
morosely at a trail of blue smoke 
rising from his pipe bowl. He sat 
there until the afternoon light faded 


from the desert base. Then he stood 
in the darkened office, sighed, lit 
his pipe and went home. He was 
very tired. 

SIX WEEKS later Johnny 
Youngbear walked out of the 
Control blockhouse into the cold 
desert morning, carrying his helmet 
under his arm. 

He ran his eyes swiftly up the 
length of Ship II, trying to forget 
those other eyes staring at his back 
from the blockhouse. The Ship rip- 
pled and gleamed, alive, eager, the 
thundering power in her belly wait- 
ing to be born. 

Oh, you bitch! You beautiful 
bitch, Johnny thought. Pregnant 
with power like a goddess with a 
god's child. Bitch, bitch, bitch! I 
love you I hate you. You kill me. 

The crew-chief walked by his 
side. "Nice morning, Colonel," he 

"Very," said Johnny. 

/ had a true wife but I left her 
. . . oh, oh, oh. For you, you beauti- 
ful bitch. 

"Say something, Colonel?" asked 
the crew-chief. 

"No. Song running through my 
head," he explained. 

"Yeah," the other man chuckled. 
"I know how it is." 

They strapped him into the pad- 
ded control chair, the controls ar- 
ranged around him in a neat semi- 
circle, easy to reach. 

This is my day. 

They left him. Alone. Once 
around lightly. 

The loneliness was in his belly, 
aching like a tumor. 


". . . read me?" Control's voice 
in his earphones. 

"Loud and clear," he said ab- 

". . . minus two minutes . . . 
mark!" A different voice. So many 
different voices. They knew him, 
they talked to him. But he was alone 
with his bitch. 

/ had a true wife but — 

". . . minus one minute . . . 

This is my day I had a true 
wife — 

". . . three . . . two . , , one . . . 

There was the sound of a world 
dying in his mind, the sound of 
thunder, the sound of a sun split- 
ting, die sound of a goddess giving 
birth, with pain with agony in lone- 

A giant's fist came from out of 
nothingness and smashed into his 
body. His chest was compressed, his 
face was flattened, he could not get 
enough air to breathe. The heavy 
sledge of acceleration crushed him 
back into the padded chair, inexor- 
able, implacable, relentless, heavy. 
His vision clouded in red and he 
thought he would die. Instead, he 
spoke into the lip mike, resenting 
it bitterly. 

"Acceleration . . . nine gee." He 
looked at the gauge that shimmered 
redly before him, disbelieving. "Al- 
titude 20,000." 

He blacked out, sinking helpless- 
ly into the black plush pight of un- 
awareness. / had a true I had I 
had — 

Awakening to pain, he glanced 
at the gauges. He had been gone 
only a split second. 


"Altitude 28,000 acceleration 
pressure dropping." 

His face began to resume its nor- 
mal shape as the acceleration 
dropped. ". . . six gee," he said, and 
breathing was easier. The giant re- 
luctantly began to withdraw his 
massive fist from Johnny's face. 

He tipped a lever, watched the 
artificial horizon tilt slightly. "Air 
control surfaces respond," he said. 
But soon there would be no air for 
the surfaces to move against, and 
then he would control by flicking 
the power that rumbled behind 

"Altitude 40,000 ..." 

". . . 85,000 . . ." 

". . . 100,000 . . ." The sky was 
glistening black, he was passing 
from the earth's envelope of air into 
the nothingness that was space. 


Now it was time to change angle, 
flatten the ship out, bring it into 
position to run around the earth. 
Once around lightly. 

There was a high-pitched scream 
in his earphones. He remembered 
it had been there for long, and 
wondered if he had told Control. 

He flicked the switch that ignited 
the powerful steering rockets, and 
the whine grew louder, unbearably 
loud. It sang to him, his bitch sang 
/ had a true wife, but I left her . . . 
oh, oh, oh. 

He began to feel a light tingle 
over his body, tiny needles delicate- 
ly jabbing every inch. His face be- 
came wooden, felt prickly. He tried 
to lick his lips and could feel no 
sensation there. His vision fogged 
again, and he knew it was not from 


acceleration this time, it was some- 
thing else. 

Something else. 

What's it like out there? 

His belly told him. Fear. 

He reached out his hand to touch 
the control panel, and his arm did 
not respond. It was shaking, uncon- 
trollably, and moved off to the 
right of where he wanted it to go. 
When he tried to correct, it swung 
too far to the left, waving as if it 
were alive. It hung there before 
him as in a dream, oscillating back 
and forth. 

He could not control his body, 
and the realization nurtured the 
tiny seed of panic that lay heavily 
in his belly. 

Dump it . , . 

What did that mean? Dump it 
. ■ . go home now, baby ... I had 
a true . . . 

Decision . . . there was a decision 
he had to make, but he was too 
frightened to know what it was. 

He had been bom in fear and 
lived in fear and his body was full 
of it, quivering to the lover's touch 
of fear. Falling, darkness, the fear 
of dying, the unknown, the unimag- 
inable always lurking just out of the 
corner of his eye. 

He wanted to scream and the 
fear choked it off. His hands were 
at his sides, limply, useless, dangling 
at the seat. He had to hang on to 
something. His hand found a pro- 
jection at the side of the seat. He 
clutched it desperately. 

He knew he would fall, down, 
spiraling, weightless, off the cliff as 
in a dream, off the ladder, the tree, 
he was a child and his toes were 
tingling as he stood too near the 


edge of the cliff, knowing he might 

He clutched tightly, putting every 
ounce of his strength into holding 
on to the lever, the single solid 
reality in a world of shifting unreal- 
ity. He was going to fall he was 
falling I love you I hate you I had 
a true wife . . . 

THERE WAS softness beneath 
his back, and he moved his 
hands, feeling the crispness of 
sheets. There was a low murmur of 
voices. He raised his hands to his 
eyes and the voices stopped. There 
were heavy bandages on his eyes. 

"Colonel?" came a questing 
voice, and Johnny realized it was 
Doctor Lambert. "Awake?" 

"I can't see. Why can't I see?" 

"You'll be all right. It's all right." 

"What happened?" 

"How much do you remember?" 
asked the voice. "The blast-off?" 

"Yes — yes, I remember that," 

"The orbit? The landing?" 

"No," he said. "Not that." 

"You did it," said the voice. "You 
made it." 

This is my day. Once around 

"Johnny," said the voice. "I don't 
know just how to say this. We know 
what was wrong with Ship I, and 
why it killed Mitch. We know — 
hell, we don't even begin to realize 
what we have at our fingertips now. 
It's so big it's impossible to evalu- 

"What? I don't—" 

"Sound, Johnny, sound. Or 
rather, vibration. It's something 
we're just beginning to learn about. 


We know a few things; we know 
you can boil water with sound if 
the frequency is high enough. And 
you can drill metal with it — and it 
does things to the human body. 

"There are frequencies of sound 
which can act directly on human 
nerves, directly on the human 
brain. It means that if we know the 
right frequency, we'll be able to 
produce any state we want in a 
man, any emotion. Fear, anguish, 

"When the steering rockets were 
cut in, the Ship began to vibrate. It 
generated frequencies so high that 
ordinary human senses couldn't de- 
tect them. And when your nerves 
were exjxjsed to those vibrations, it 
produced fear. Pure and absolute 
fear. Motor control went, rational 
processes went, all the nervous func- 
tions of the body went out of con- 
trol. Your body became a giant tun- 
ing fork, and the frequency to which 
it vibrated was fear. 

"I can't remember — " 

"Sanity went, too, Johnny," said 
the man softly. "You could not 

stand that fear and remain sane, so 
something cut off. That was what 
happened to Mitch." 

"How did I get back?" 

"We don't know. The films show 
your face suddenly going blank. 
Then you flew. That's all. We 
hoped you could tell us." 

"No. No — I don't remember — " 

"There was something in you so 
strong it overrode everything else, 
even the fear. We'd like to know 
what it is. We'll find out, Johnny, 
and it will mean a lot to the human 
race when we do." 

This is my day. 

"Is my wife here?" 

There was a cool hand on his 
forehead. "Yes, Johnny." 

"Well," he said helplessly. "Well, 
how are you?" 

"I'm fine, Johnny," she whis- 
pered, and there was the sound of 
tears in her voice. "I'm just fine." 

He felt the warm softness of her 
lips on his. 

/ had a true wife but I left her 
, , . oh, oh, oh. 

And then he came home again. 




ivith a 

Herbert was truly a gentle- 
man robot. The ladies' slight- 
est wish was his command . . . 


HERBERT bowed with a muted 
clank — indicating he probably 
needed oiling somewhere — and 
presented Alice with a perfect mar- 
tini on a silver tray. He stood hold- 
ing the tray, a white, permanent 
porcelain smile on his smooth 
metal face, as Alice sipped the 
drink and grimaced. 

Illustrated by Paul Orban 


"It's a good martini, Herbert," 
said Alice. "Thank you. But, damn- 
it, I wish you didn't have that ever- 
lasting smile!" 

"I am very sorry. Miss Alice, 
but I am unable to alter myself in 
any way," replied Herbert in his 
polite, hollow voice. 

He retired to a corner and stood 
impassively, still holding the tray. 
Herbert^ad found a silver deposit 
and made the tray. Herbert had 
found sand and made the cocktail 
glass. Herbert had combined God 
knew what atmospheric and earth 
cheimicals to make what tasted like 
gin and vermouth, and Herbert 
had frozen the ice to chill it. 

"Sometimes," said Thera wist- 
fully, "it occurs to me it would be 
better to live in a mud hut with a 
real man than in a mansion with 

The four women lolled com- 
fortably in the living room of their 
spacious house, as luxurious as any- 
thing any of them would have 
known on distant Earth. The rugs 
were thick, the furniture was over- 
stuffed, the paintings on the walls 
were aesthetic and inspiring, the 
shelves were filled with booktapes 
and musictapes. 

Herbert had done it all, except 
the booktapes and musictapes, 
which had ben salvaged from the 
wrecked spaceship. 

"Do you suppose we'll ever es- 
cape from this best of all possible 
manless worlds?" asked Betsy, fluf- 
fing her thick black hair with her 
fingers and inspecting herself in a 
Herbert-made mirror. 

"I don't see how," answered 
blond Alice glumly. "That atmos- 

pheric trap would wreck any other 
ship just as it wrecked ours, and 
the same magnetic layer prevents 
any radio message from getting out. 
No, I'm afraid we're a colony." 

"A colony perpetuates itself," re- 
minded sharp-faced Marguerite, 
acidly. "We aren't a colony, with- 
out men." 

They were not the prettiest four 
women in the universe, nor the 
youngest. The prettiest women and 
the youngest did not go to space. 
But they were young enough and 
healthy enough, or they could not 
have gone to space. 

It had been a year and a half 
now — an Earth year and a half on 
a nice little planet revolving around 
a nice little yellow sun. Herbert, 
the robot, was obedient and versa- 
tile and had provided them with a 
house, food, clothing, anything they 
wished created out of the raw ele- 
ments of earth and air and water. 
But the bones of all the men who 
had been aspace with these four 
ladies lay mouldering in the wreck- 
age of their spaceship. 

And Herbert could not create a 
man. Herbert did not have to have 
direct orders, and he had tried once 
to create a man when he had over- 
heard them wishing for one. They 
had buried the corpse — perfect in 
every detail except that it never 
had been alive. 

"It's been a hot day," said Alice, 
fanning her brow. "I wish it would 

Silently, Herbert moved from his 
corner and went out the door. 

Marguerite gestured after him 
with a bitter little laugh. 

"It'll rain this afternoon," she 


said. "I don't know how Herbert 
does it — maybe with silver iodide. 
But it'll rain. Wouldn't it have been 
simpler to get him to air-conditicwi 
the house, Alice?" 

"That's a good idea," said Alice 
thoughtfully. "We should have had 
him do it before." 

HERBERT had not quite com- 
pleted the task of air-condi- 
tioning the house when the other 
spaceship crashed. They all rushed 
out to the smoking site — the four 
women and Herbert. 

It was a tiny scoutship, and its 
single occupant was alive. 

He was unconscious, but he was 
alive. And he was a man! 

They carted him back to the 
house, tenderly, and put him to 
bed. They hovered over him like 
four hens over a single chick, 
waiting and watching for him to 
come out of his coma, while Her- 
bert scurried about creating and 
administering the necessary medi- 

"He'll live," said Thera happily. 
Thera had been a space nurse. 
"He'll be on his feet and walking 
around in a few weeks." 

"A man!" murmured Betsy, with 
something like awe in her voice. "I 
could almost believe Herbert 
brought him here in answer to our 

"Now, girls," said Alice, "we 
have to realize that a man brings 
problems, as well as possibilities." 

There was a matter-of-fact hard- 
ness to her tone which almost 
masked the quiver behind it. There 
was a defiant note of competition 

there which had not been heard 
on this little planet before. 

"What do you mean?" asked 

"I know what she means," said 
Marguerite, and the new hardness 
came natural to her. "She means, 
which one of us gets him?" 

Betsy, the youngest, gasped, and 
her mouth rounded to a startled O. 
Thera blinked, as though she were 
coming out of a daze. 

"That's right," said Alice. "Do 
we draw straws, or do we let him 

"Couldn't we wait?" suggested 
Betsy timidly. "Couldn't we wait 
until he gets well?" 

Herbert came in with a new ther- 
mometer and poked it into the 
unconscious man's mouth. He stood 
by the bed, waiting patiently. 

"No, I don't think we can," said 
Alice. "I think we ought to have 
it all worked out and agreed on, so 
there won't be any dispute about it." 

"I say, draw straws," said Mar- 
guerite. Marguerite's face was thin, 
and she had a skinny figure. 

Betsy, the youngest, opened her 
mouth, but Thera forestalled her. 

"We are not on Earth," she said 
firmly, in her soft, mellow voice. 
"We don't have to follow terrestrial 
customs, and we shouldn't. There's 
only one solution that will keep 
everybody happy — all of us and the 

"And that is . . .?" asked Mar- 
guerite drily. 

"Polygamy, of course. He must 
belong to us all." 

Betsy shuddered but, surprisingly, 
she nodded. 

(Continued on page 112) 


Illustrated by Paul Orban 

A Mixture of Genius 

Who, but the imaginative young, shall inherit the stars? 


THE SLEEK transcontinental fading to a dense roar, it taxied 

airliner settled onto one of the across the field toward the central 

maze of runways that was Steven- building. Inside the plane a red 

son Airport. With its turbojets light went off. 


Senator Vance Duran unhooked 
the seat belt, reached for his brief- 
case, and stepped into the crowded 
aisle. The other passengers were all 
strangers, which had meant that 
for nearly an hour he had been able 
to give his full attention to the 
several hundred pages of proposed 
legislation and reports presented to 
the Committee on Extraterrestrial 
Development, of which he was 
chairman. But now there would be 
reporters, local political pleaders, 
the dinner at the Governor's, and 
the inevitable unexpected interrup- 
tions which were a part of every 
trip home. 

As he strode through the door 
and onto the mobile escalator, he 
donned his smile of tempered con- 
fidence in the economic future of 
the nation. A television camera 
went into action at once and news- 
men formed a small circle at the 
bottom of the ramp. 

"That was a great little debate 
you put on with Ben Wickolm last 
week," one of the reporters said. 
"You really tied him up." 

"You can thank Senator Wick- 
olm for arousing me," Duran an- 
swered, observing to himself that 
perhaps all of his efforts on the 
Hill did not go unnoticed in his 
home state, if most of them seemed 

"What do you think. Senator, of 
the FCC's modified ruling on the 
integrated lunar relay station 
plan?" another asked. 

"I haven't had time to get fully 
acquainted with it," the senator 
evaded, stepping onto the ground 
and out of the way of the ramp. 

"Say, Senator, what about the 


Mars colony project?" a third put 
in. "How come it's bogged down?" 

"No comment at present," the 
senator said. But he gave them an 
ambiguous little grimace which was 
meant to suggest a minor but sticky 
snarl behind the scenes. He hoped 
it would satisfy them for the mo- 

Making his escape as quickly as 
possible, he climbed onto the shuttle 
car already loaded down with the 
other passengers. Finding an empty 
seat, he folded himself into it, and 
was immediately joined by someone 

"Well, Senator, how does it feel 
to be home?" his companion asked 
with sympathetic irony. 

Duran turned, grinned, and 
reached for the man's hand. 

"Great, Wayne," he answered, 
recognizing an old friend who had 
been of no small aid during his 
earlier years in politics. "Say, I'd 
ask you over for dinner if we 
weren't going to the Governor's to- 
night. Molly would love to see you. 
Unfortunately I'm leaving for 
Washington again in the morning." 

"Why doesn't Molly move to 
D.C. with you, Vance?" the jour- 
nalist asked. 

Duran hesitated. "Maybe in a 
year or so. After the boys are out of 
highschool. // I get the job again." 

The smile on the younger man's 
face was heartening. 

"Don't play coy with me, Vance. 
You know you've got this state 
sewed up." Then came the slight 
frown of doubt. "Just one thing, 
though. A lot of people are won- 
dering why the hold up on the 
colony project. You're bound to 


get a little of the criticism. What 
the hell's wrong, anyway?" 

"Can't you guess?" 

"Yeah. I can guess. There's only 
one possibility, since the govern- 
ment scientists assure us they've 
ironed out all the technical wrin- 
kles. But it's pretty hard to believe 
that out of the thousands of people 
who volunteer every week, not even 
a couple of hundred are accept- 

Duran considered his answer 
carefully before voicing it. 

"Ever ask yourself who volun- 
teers, Wayne?" 

The journalist looked at him 
oddly, then nodded. 

THE SENATOR took an eleva- 
tor directly to the helicopter 
landing on the roof of the building. 
It was several minutes before he 
had located the little runabout he 
had bought for his wife the previ- 
ous Christmas. Jack Woodvale, 
their caretaker, gardener, and 
chauffeur was just retrieving his 
suitcase from the baggage lift as 
the senator arrived. 

Waiting until Woodvale had se- 
cured the suitcase in the luggage 
compartment and climbed into the 
pilot's seat, Duran squeezed himself 
into the cabin. A minute or two 
later the little craft was rising from 
the port, directed automatically 
into the appropriate channel and 
guided off toward the city. 

"How've things been going. 
Jack?" the senator asked. He felt 
good. Wayne's friendship and as- 
surances had provided a needed 
boost. "Everything okay?" 


"I'd say so, sir," Woodvale told 
him. "Had a little trouble with the 
solar screen. The store sent a man 
out to fix it. It's all right now." 

The new power unit had been an- 
other of Molly's ideas, Duran re- 
called. The old crystal sulfide screen 
had been perfectly reliable. But 
Molly had thought it looked ugly 
up there on the roof. Molly's main 
faults, he decided, derived from her 
concern with the neighbors' opin- 

"Oh, there was something else 
came up while I was on my way 
out to get you," Woodvale con- 
tinued abruptly. "The state's At- 
torney General called — said it was 
important you contact him imme- 

Duran sensed anger surging up 
as he remembered the times when, 
as District Attorney, Sig LoefHer 
had openly snubbed him. That, of 
course, had been back in the days 
when Duran had been a junior 
partner in one of the city's smaller 
law firms. He had not forgiven 
Loeffler, nor had Loeffler given him 
any reason to do so. Only the Gov- 
ernor's back-slapping mediation 
had allowed them to reach a polit- 
ically stable relationship. The rela- 
tionship did not involve Duran's 
compliance with the man's whims, 

"Get him on the phone. Jack," 
Duran said at last. "But just make 
one call. If he's not at his office, 
forget it." 

In less than a minute Woodvale 
was turning around to say: 

"He's in, sir. You want to talk to 

Duran grunted and lifted the 


phone from the clamp beside his 

"Senator Duran speaking," he 

"Vance, this is Loeffler," boomed 
a voice in considerable contrast to 
the senator's own mild tone. "Some- 
thing pretty fantastic has happened. 
We're trying to keep it quiet, at 
least until we decide on what action 
to take. But if you can make it over 
here some time this evening, I'll tell 
you the story. You're going to be in 
on it eventually, and I thought 
you'd prefer getting in on it early." 

Duran had intended quite blunt- 
ly to explain that he had more im- 
portant business. But there was 
something compelling about the 
man's apparently ingenuous urgen- 
cy that caused the senator to change 
his mind. 

"Okay, Loeffler. I'll be right 

He broke the contact and told 
Woodvale to dial his home number. 

"Ernie, this is Dad," he said at 
the sound of his younger son's 
voice. "Tell Mother I'm going to 
stop off at the Attorney General's 
office — that's right— but that I'll be 
home in plenty of time to get ready 
for the dinner. Got that? That's 
right. How's school? Something 
wrong? Okay, son, I'll see you 

Ernie had said that everything 
was all right, but with an uneasi- 
ness in the way he spoke. Grades, 
maybe, Duran thought. The boy 
had been doing pretty well, almost 
as well as Roger, but was showing 
the inevitable adolescent ramifica- 
tions of interest. Duran found him- 
self musing briefly upon his own 


youthful extra-curricular forays up 
the tree of knowledge and sighed. 

"Go to the capitol building. 
Jack," he said. 

"Which port should I use, sir?" 
the younger man asked. 

"The official one," Duran told 
him. This was Loeffler's idea. 

The senator was surprised to find 
one of the Attorney General's har- 
ried-looking secretaries working 
late. She glanced up from her type- 
writer and gave him an equivocal 
smile of recognition. 

"He's expecting you, Mr. Sena- 
tor," she said, nodding toward the 
inner office. "Go right in." 

Sigmund Loeffler was not alone. 
But the two other visitors were 
paled by the aura of importance 
which emanated from the large 
black-haired man behind the desk. 
He rose grandly at Duran's en- 
trance, and without bothering to 
shake hands proceeded with intro- 

"Fritz Ambly, Senator Vance 
Duran. Fritz," he explained, "is 
chairman of the state Youth Wel- 
fare Board." 

Duran took the thin hand which 
the other extended to him and 
noted the concern on the man's slim 
freckled face. His features were ap- 
propriately almost those of a child, 
but of a worried child. 

"And Bob Duff, Senator Duran," 
Loeffler went on. "Bob is head of 
our Civil Defense now." 

The second man was, in contrast, 
short and homely, but not without 
a touch of the other's anxiety. 

"Well, gentlemen, you're wel- 
come to stay if you wish," the At- 


torney General told them. "I'll 
have to repeat all the facts to Sena- 
tor Duran, of course." 

"I'd better be off," Ambly said. 
"Perhaps I'll see you at the Gov- 
ernor's tonight?" 

"Not me, I'm afraid," Loeffler 
told him. "The DA and I have a 
little problem to work out together. 
I'll call you both tomoirow about 
the press release." 

"We can't wait too long," said 
DufF. "Rumors can be a lot worse 
than the truth. Especially about 
something like this. In fact, I don't 
see the point in waiting at all." 

"Tomorrow, Bob. Tomorrow," 
Loeffler promised. "Noon at the lat- 

His heavy smile faded as the two 
visitors closed the door behind 
them. With an unthrottled groan, 
he lowered himself into the chair 
and turned his dark gaze upon the 

"They think they have troubles," 
he said. 

"And you think I have," Duran 
returned, seating himself. 

"I know you do. Unfortunately 
I happen to share them to some ex- 

He paused to relight the stub of 
a cigar, then went on. 

"It's a crazy world we live in, 
Vance. Things change. Sometimes 
it's hard for us adults to keep up 
with it. The kids seem to, though." 

Duran tried to appear suavely 
bored with the other's musings. But 
in spite of himself he could sense 
his gaze becoming intently expect- 
ant. Whatever connection there 
might be between himself, Ambly, 
and DufT completely eluded him. 


And that elusive connection had 
aroused his curiosity. 

"Yeah, they keep up with things, 
all right," Loeffler went on. "And 
sometimes they get some pretty big 

He halted, puffed thoughtfully, 
then barked: 

"Remember Mel Skinner's lodge 
out on that island in Wakataoga 
Lake? Big Spanish-style place. Built 
it for that wife of his he brought 
back from Chile or somewhere." 

"Yes, I remember it. Molly and I 
spent a weekend there a couple of 
years ago. Why?" the senator asked, 
realizing more than ever how much 
he disliked Sigmund Loeffler. 
"What are you getting at?" 

"Well, the next time you go 
you'd better take along some sleep- 
ing bags," said Loeffler. "Because 
the house isn't there anymore." 

"Okay," Duran said, strangely 
anxious. "Let's forget the riddles 
and get down to business. What 
happened to Mel Skinner's hacien- 

The Attorney General stared at 
his guest for a moment, before re- 
marking harshly: 

"It got blown up." 

"A bomb, you mean?" Duran 

"Oh, no, no — nothing so crude 
as that. This was a guided missile. 
\Vith a warhead." 

The senator was thinking fast 
now, but still the jjattern eluded 

"Not an act of war, surely?" he 

"More like an act of revolution," 
Loeffler told him. "Because the 
agents behind it were kids. Kids 


from our state, our city. Kids from 
decent homes, educated families. 
Bright kids. Happy kids. Kids with 
every opportunity. Kids who ought 
to know better — ■" 

"Hold it, Loeffler!" Duran inter- 
rupted, rising from the chair to 
place both hands on the edge of the 
desk. "Just one question — was any- 
one killed or injured?" 

The other man hesitated melo- 
dramatically, then looked down at 
his cigar. 

"No. There was no one on the 
island. The place had been closed 
down for the winter. That's the 
only pleasant thing about it." 

Duran found it such unexpect- 
edly good news that he was actual- 
ly able to smile when he dropped 
back into the chair. 

"In other words, Loeffler, it was 
a prank." 

But the Attorney General seemed 
not to see it in precisely that light. 

"A prank, yes!" he exploded. "A 
hundred thousand dollar prank! 
My God, Vance, don't you see what 
those boys did? They demonstrated 
the grossest lack of respect for pri- 
vate property. And what if they'd 
miscalculated? That rocket was 
fired from a distance of some fifty 
or sixty miles. It could have killed 
any number of people along its 
course had it fallen short." 

"Well, I'll admit it's not the sort 
of thing I'd like to see encouraged," 
said Duran. "Now give me the de- 
tails. Who were they? Where did 
they get the rocket? What was the 
point of it, anyway?" 

Sigmund Loeffler opened a folder 
which lay on his desk and started 
sifting through its contents. He 


pulled out several memoranda and 
a list of names, closing the folder 

"There was a gang of eight, all in 
the eleventh or twelfth grades at 
Eisenhower High. Five of them 
were members of the school rocket 
club. Three of them had juvenile 
delinquency records — minor stuff, 
mostly, like copter stunting and 
public disturbance. The youngest 
had won a couple of science awards 
for demonstrations in — " he glanced 
significantly at the senator, "the 
chemistry of explosives." 

Duran said nothing, but his sense 
of concern was growing. 

"Let's see," Loeffler went on. 
"Two of the boys were taking voca- 
tional courses. One had his own 
machine shop, in fact. Then there 
was the electronics expert — Ceasar 
Grasso's son — know him?" 

The senator nodded. 

"He runs the highschool T-V sta- 
tion. Knows a lot about radio, I 
understand. Oh, yes. There was also 
the lad who drew up the plans for 
the gadget. Pretty sharp at engi- 
neering design, they say — " 

Duran peered numbly across tlie 
desk at the grim faced official. This 
was what he had been fearing all 
along. But despite his apprehension, 
he was not entirely ready for it. 

"That, I suppose," he said quiet- 
ly, "was my son Roger." 

Loeffler nodded slowly. "That 
was your boy, Vance. Sorry I had 
to be the one to break it to you." 

"But where is he?" Duran asked. 
"And does Molly know about it?" 

"She knows he's been detained, 
but not how serious the charges 


"Just how serious are the 

"I don't know yet," said Loeffler. 
"That's not really my province, of 
course," said Loeffler. "But the 
problem is complicated by the fact 
tliat Lake Wakataoga is state prop- 
erty, with the island merely leased 
to Skinner." 

Duran fumbled through his 
pockets for his cigarettes. He found 
them and lit one. 

"When did this happen?" he 
asked, aware that the painfully 
tangled knot in his stomach was be- 
ginning to untie itself. 

"This afternoon around one- 
thirty. A couple of guys fishing on 
the lake saw the explosion and 
called the local civil defense head- 
quarters. They claim they heard 
the rocket fall. Damned near had a 
war scare till the pieces were found. 
They were easy enough to trace, 
and the kids gave themselves away 
by all eight of them being awol 
from their one o'clock classes. 
Especially since five of them were 
absent from a physics class — that 
was one class they never cut." 

"I don't see how they managed 
to go all the way through with it 
without someone finding out," 
Duran said, bewilderedly. 

"I know," agreed Loeffler, nod- 
ding. "That's the way we all felt. 
But they admit doing it — hell, 
they're proud of it! — and we found 
the shed where the thing was as- 

"I don't suppose they offered any 
motive," Duran said. 

"Oh, sure. They claim they'd 
been planning it ever since Skinner 
wouldn't let them land copters on 


the island. Pretty weak, huh?" 

The senator made no response. 

"Well, Vance, I guess you'll want 
to talk to the boy," Loeffler con- 
cluded. "I had him brought up 
here. Figured it would be best ail 
around that way. I knew you had 
to get back to Washington tomor- 
row and probably wouldn't have 
time to see him then. Shall I have 
him come in?" 

When Duran hesitated, he 
added, "Oh, I've got to duck out 
for a few minutes. Get some supper. 
Got a long evening ahead of me." 

"Okay, Loeffler, send him in. 
And — " This was the hardest part. 
"And I appreciate this." 

"No trouble, Vance," the man 
said, rising and stepping around the 
desk. "No more than we've got al- 

He removed a suit coat from a 
hanger and left the office with it 
under his arm. A moment later the 
door opened again and the senator 
saw the shaggy head of his older 
son peer into the room. The boy 
was the one who finally broke the 
silence which followed. 

"Hi, Dad," he said, sauntering 
casually into the office. "Guess 
you're pretty sore at me. Can't 
blame you." 

Duran remained seated, indicat- 
ing a chair against one wall. He 
waited till his son had sat down. 

"I'm a little dumbfounded, Rog, 
that's all. I suppose you had a good 
reason for it." 

"Sure. Old skinflint Skinner 
wouldn't let us—" 

"Roger!" the senator growled 
threateningly. He was not going to 
allow the interview to start off with 


a half-truth. 

"Yeah, but that's state land," the 
boy persisted. "He hadn't any 
right — " 

"Roger, I said a good reason." 

"Okay, Dad," he sighed. "No, 
we didn't have that kind of a rea- 

"What it amounted to," Duran 
said, "was that you wanted to do 
something spectacular like building 
a rocket and firing it at something. 
Only to be fun it had to be illegal, 
if not immoral. And Melvin Skin- 
ner's place seemed like the least ob- 
jectionable target. Isn't that about 

"Yeah, I guess so. Only we had 
just about finished the rocket be- 
fore we started wondering about a 
target. That was the trouble. Once 
we'd built it, we had to do some- 
thing with it." 

"How to you think that's going 
to sound in court?" 

"I don't know. Dad. You're the 

Duran cringed, but tried not to 
show it. 

"Roger," he said slowly. "Flip- 
pancy is the easiest defense, and the 
least effective. I hope you won't feel 
you have to resort to it too often." 

The boy said nothing. 

"Well, tell me about it," his 
father suggested, sensing his son's 

"About what?" 

"The rocket. Wouldn't a jet have 
been easier to make?" 

"A rocket was cheaper." 

The source of the money re- 
quired for the project was some- 
thing Duran had overlooked. How- 
ever, it was, he realized, one best 


postponed for the present. The im- 
portant thing now was to regain his 
son's confidence. 

"Did you design it?" 

"Yeah. Well, I drew it up. Noth- 
ing very original about it. But it 
was a good little machine." 

Duran noticed the boy's restless 
squirming, saw him perfunctorily 
place a hand to the baggy pocket of 
his jacket and quickly withdraw it, 
then arrived at a decision. Reach- 
ing into his own coat, Duran took 
out the pack of cigarettes, extend- 
ing it to his son. 

"Care for a cigarette?" he asked. 

The youth looked at him doubt- 
fully for an instant. Then he smiled 
his first smile that evening. 

"Thanks, Dad," he responded, 
taking one and lighting it self-con- 
sciously. He added, "You've been 
out of town so much, I didn't think 
you knew I'd started — " 

"I know, Rog," the man said, 
aware of a rising flood of self-con- 
demnation. "Go on, son. About the 
rocket. What kind of fuel did you 

"Oh, nothing special. It had a 
liquid bi-propellant motor. We used 
ethanol and liquid oxygen. Pretty 
old-fashioned. But we didn't know 
how to get hold of the fancier stuff, 
and didn't have any way of syn- 
thesizing it. Then, at the last min- 
ute, we found that one of the valves 
feeding into the nozzle was clogged 
up. That's why we were late to 

"Couldn't that have been dan- 
gerous?" Duran asked, and realized 
at once that he had said the wrong 

The boy merely shrugged. 


"Well, it must have been a pretty 
good machine if it flew sixty miles 
and hit its target," Diiran went on. 

"Oh, we had it radio-controlled, 
with a midget T.V. transmitter 
mounted in it. Grasso took care of 
that. He did a terrific job. Of 
course, it was pretty expensive." 

He glanced at his father tenta- 
tively for a moment, then bent his 
gaze to the cigarette. 

"I don't have my car any more. 
But I guess I won't be needing it 

There was a cautious knock on 
the door. 

"Listen, Rog," Duran began, "I'll 
try to get to see you tomorrow be- 
fore I leave. Remember that your 
mother and I are both on your side, 
without qualification. You've done 
a pretty terrible thing, of course. 
But I have to admit, at the same 
time, that I'm really rather proud 
of you. Does that make sense?" 

"Sure," said Roger huskily, "I 
guess so." 

THE FLIGHT home was a quiet 
one. Duran found himself with 
many thoughts to think, not the 
least of which was what his wife's 
leaction would be. The difficulty 
lay in the fact that their married 
life had been too easy, too free of 
tragedy, to enable him to foresee 
her response. But life would not be 
quite the same now, even if Roger 
escaped the more concrete forms of 
punishment. And perhaps it would 
be the most difficult for Ernest, 
who would forever be expected 
either to live up to or down to his 
older brother's reputation. When all 


poor Ernest seemed to want these 
days was to play the saxophone. 

And then there was his own po- 
litical future to consider. This 
would certainly not help it. But 
perhaps the affair would be forgot- 
ten in the next three years. After 
all, it might have been far worse. It 
might have happened in a cam- 
paign year. This way he still had a 
fighting chance. Three sessions with 
a good record might overbalance 
the loss in public confidence this 
would incur. And then he thought 
of the Mars colony mess and 

Telling his wife about the matter 
was not nearly so difficult as the 
senator had feared. She had been 
ready for news of a crime of pas- 
sion, or at least of armed robbery. 
What her husband had to relate 
stunned her at first. But once she 
had ridden out the shock, she re- 
covered quickly. 

"You don't have to go tonight, 
Molly," Duran told her. 

"You think it might look better 
if I didn't?" she asked gently. 

"That wasn't what I was getting 
at," he said. He thought it over for 
a moment, then added, "No, I 
don't. In fact, I think it would look 
better if we both went to the Gov- 
ernor's. Roger is not a juvenile de- 
Hnquent. That, I believe, is under- 
stood. If we must accept some of 
the responsibility for what he did 
today, then let's do so gracefully. 
Were you to stay home tonight, it 
might appear to some that you had 
reason to be ashamed of the busi- 
ness, which you don't." 

"It might also look as if I were 
afraid that Ernest might do some- 


thing similar, as if I felt I had to 
watch him," she said. "Oh, people 
can be so ridiculous! Why wasn't 
Millie Gorton's boy in on it?" 

Duran smiled at the idea of the 
Governor's tubby, obtuse son in- 
volved in the construction of any- 
thing more demanding than a pa- 
per glider. 

The Governor's mansion, a cen- 
tury old edifice typifying the mori- 
bund tendency to confuse dignity 
with discomfort, was teeming with 
professional and political person- 
ages when the Durans arrived. The 
dinner went off routinely, with no 
overt references made to the missile 
matter. However, the senator no- 
ticed that no one inquired into the 
health and happiness of his two 
sons, so that he presumed word had 
got around. 

It was not until after dinner, 
when he had seated himself alone 
in a corner of the luxurious old liv- 
ing room, a B and B in one hand 
and a cigar in the other, that his 
host approached him. 

"Evenin', Vance. Sure glad you 
could make it," exclaimed the fa- 
miliarly jovial voice of Governor 
Will Gorton. 

Duran sat down his drink and 
took the Governor's plump hand, 
shaking it vigorously. Then the sen- 
ator observed the intense youngish 
face of Fritz Ambly, who had fol- 
lowed the Governor. 

"Guess you know Fritz," Gorton 
went on, seating himself next to 
Duran. "Says he met you at Sig's 
office this afternoon." 

"That's right," Duran said. 
"Good to see you again, Ambly." 


The Youth Welfare board chair- 
man nodded affably and took the 
remaining chair. His look of con- 
cern had mellowed somewhat with 
the evening. But the pale close eyes 
remained set in an expression of 
aggressive earnestness. 

"How's Roger?" Gorton asked, 
after a moment's silence. 

"As normal as ever," said Duran, 
unprepared for the question. Then, 
slyly, he added, "Thanks for talk- 
ing LoeflSer into letting me see 

"Well, Sig agreed it was the only 
thing to do, after I told him you'd 
be leaving for Washington again 
tomorrow," the Governor said. 

Duran grinned wryly. It had 
been a guess, but a good one. And 
Loeffler's having passed the inter- 
view off as a personal favor put 
their relationship back in its proper 

"Well, what's to be done about 
the boys? They're all under eight- 
een, I suppose." 

"That's right," Gorton said. "It's 
entirely a matter for the juvenile 
authority. At least we're going to 
try to keep it there. But there's 
more to it than that. Which is why 
Fritz is here. He has something on 
his mind which he thinks is pretty 
important. I do too." 

"You see. Senator," said Ambly, 
coming in promptly on his cue, 
"it's this way. If the case were an 
isolated one, it would be easy 
enough for us to deal with. But it's 
part of a pattern which few people 
have yet noticed. Let me cite sev- 
eral other similar incidents. 

"Perhaps you read about the 
group of fifty teen-aged copter 


jockeys who decided to hold a 
transcontinental scavenger hunt. 
Ignoring all air-traffic regulations, 
they managed to run up the mag- 
nificent total of seventeen collisions 
and thirty-two casualties." 

"Hear about that one, Vance?" 
the Governor asked, his earlier fes- 
tiveness gone. 

"Yes, I think I saw something 
about it," Duran said. "It was 
pretty unfortunate, but — " 

"And then there was the case of 
the promising young New England 
biologist' who was discovered to 
have evolved a particularly deadly 
strain of bacteria, which he had 
been toting around with him in an 
aspirin bottle," Ambly went on, his 
thin hands clasped tightly in front 
of him. "Of course, at the age of 
sixteen, one perhaps can't be ex- 
pected to foresee all of the possible 

"So let us consider the two seven- 
teen-year-olds who caused some- 
thing of a sensation in Florida when 
, they used the Branski-Baker method 
of genetic exchange to breed a quite 
fabulous species of winged alliga- 
tor. Several of these so called 'alli- 
bats' escaped into the everglades, 
but it is doubted that they will be 
able to reproduce themselves. At 
least there is some doubt." 

The senator reached for his drink 
and sipped it thoughtfully. He was 
beginning to see Roger's gang's mis- 
adventure in a new light. But it was 
an unfamiliar light, one that would 
take him a while to become accus- 
tomed to. 

"Perhaps the most startling case 
of all," Ambly went on, "concerns 
the Nuclear Fission Society of Ura- 


nia, Nevada. It is not a well pub- 
licized fact that this quasi- academic 
group of adolescent physicists was 
exposed in the act of assembling an 
elementary but workable atomic 
bomb. Many of the elders in this 
fast-growing little community are 
engaged, as you no doubt know, in 
atomic development of one sort or 
another. It seemed that this interest 
had trickled down to their off- 
spring, who showed an impressive 
amount of ingenuity in getting the 
necessary materials. Fortunately, 
one youngster asked his father en- 
tirely too many questions concern- 
ing the actual fabrication of fission 
weapons. The man investigated 

"Now, wait a minute," Duran in- 
terrupted, wondering momentarily 
if the whole tale might not have 
been a hoax. "How much of this 
am I really expected to believe?" 

"It's all fact, Vance," Governor 
Gorton responded solemnly. "Fritz 
has a couple of scrapbooks I'd like 
you to look at some time. Each case 
is pretty well authenticated. But the 
important thing is the pattern. It's 
really sort of frightening in a way." 

"Many similar incidents have no 
doubt occurred of which I have no 
record," said Ambly. "I'd estimate 
that ninety percent of such cases 
are suppressed, either in the interest 
of national security or because the 
children's parents are sufficiently 
influential to have the story 

"Just as we'd have sat on this 
one," added Gorton, "if the dang 
thing hadn't actually been shot 

Duran smiled inwardly at the 


picture evoked by the Governor's 
metaphor. However, he had to ad- 
mit that the press would in all 
probability not have learned about 
the rocket at all, had it been dis- 
covered prior to being launched. 

"Still," he remarked, "it's odd 
that the papers haven't shown more 
of an interest in it." 

"I wrote an article on the sub- 
ject some time ago," Ambly told 
him, "but was never able to get it 
published. It seems that people, for 
the most part, are more interested 
in the traditional sordid-sensational 
type of juvenile delinquency. 

"Whereas, this is something dif- 
ferent, something unique. It isn't 
the result of poverty or broken 
homes, ignorance or twisted per- 
sonalities — this is a mixture of 
genius, knowledge, restlessness, and 
something else I don't think we un- 

"What do you suggest be done 
about it?" Duran asked. 

"Well, the first step," said Ambly, 
"is to get Congress to recognize the 
problem for what it is. And even 
that won't be easy." 

"That's where you're supposed 
to come in," the Governor said, 
grinning a little guiltily. "Fritz has 
been tryin' to get me to talk to you 
about it for some months. I've got 
to admit, though, that the business 
this afternoon involvin' your son 
was what finally convinced me you 
might be sold." 

"I'm sold, Will," Duran told him. 
"But what's the solution? We can't 
supervise the activities of every kid 
in the country with an IQ above a 
hundred and ten. Anyway, they're 
too limited as it is. That, it seems to 


me, is part of the trouble. And we 
can't hold their parents account- 
able. Responsibility has to be an in- 
dividual matter. So what's the solu- 

Governor Gorton raised a quiz- 
zical eyebrow at Fritz Ambly, who 
in turn merely shrugged. The sena- 
tor glanced at each of them, then 
down at his drink. 

"So there isn't one," he said. 

"Whatever it is," said Ambly, "it 
won't be simple or painless. There's 
only one such solution, and that's 
the time-honored technique of let- 
ting them grow into maturity. And 
even that is far from painless and 
simple to those doing the growing, 
nor is it always the solution." 

"Yet you're convinced this — " 
the senator paused briefly, "phe- 
nomenon constitutes a danger to 
the nation?" 

Ambly merely smiled. But very, 
very grimly. 

"Well, think it over, Vance," the 
Governor said, getting to his feet. 
"Say, there are a couple of hydro- 
ponics men here somewhere who 
are pretty interested in meetin' you. 
You've heard of Van Neef Indus- 
tries. He's one of 'em." 

So much for the welfare of the 
nation, Duran thought with a taste 
of bitterness. Now back to politics. 

But he finished off his drink, and 
put out his cigar, and rose to follow 
the Governor. Politics, after all, was 
the reason he had come. 

IT WAS two a.m. before Senator 
Vance Duran wearily dropped 
into bed. But he found no rest in 
sleep that night. For in his dreams 


he seemed to see a youngster walk- 
ing, now through a forest, now 
through a city, now through an au- 
tumn countryside. And in the boy's 
hand was a tightly capped bottle. 
And the expression on his face was 
an enigma . . . 

Early the next morning Jack 
Woodvale parked the helicopter in 
a lot back of the city youth deten- 
tion home. Five minutes later the 
senator was again talking to his 
older son. 

"I have to get back to Washing- 
ton this morning, Roger," he said. 
"I've scheduled a committee meet- 
ing for ten-thirty. I suppose I could 
call it off, but we've got to do some- 
thing about the Mars colony project 
before public apathy forces us to 
drop the whole thing. You under- 
stand, don't you?" 

"Sure," the boy said with appar- 
ent indifference. "Maybe you 
should have let me volunteer. You'd 
have solved two problems at the 
same time." 

"Now, Roger — " Duran began. 
But he stopped, suddenly alert. 

"Son, you weren't ever serious 
about that, were you? I mean all 
that talk I used to hear about your 
wanting to go to one of the 

"Ah, I don't know. Dad—" 

"Please, Roger, you've got to be 
honest with me. I want to know ex- 
actly how you feel about it. I know 
you've tried before, and I refused 
to take you seriously. I realize that. 
But now — now tell me the truth." 

And the curious thing \vas, he 
realized, that he wanted to hear 
from his son what he feared most 
to hear. 


"Well— sure, I wanted to go," 
his son said. "I kept telling you, 
didn't I? Of course, I wouldn't 
want to go unless some of the gang 
were going too." 

"You really think that you'd be 
willing to leave Earth, your home, 
your family — " 

Duran hesitated angrily, knowing 
it was the wrong approach. He 
waited a moment^ then began 

"I'm not condemning you for it, 
Roger. I just find it hard to believe. 
And I have to be sure you know 
what you'd be sacrificing." 

"I think I do. Dad," Roger said. 
"But you've got to make a break 
sometime. I guess there' d be some 
girls going along, wouldn't there?" 

Duran grinned numbly. 

"I guess there would, son," he 

THE SENATOR watched the 
land of his home state sink 
rapidly into the morning haze as the 
jetliner soared upward. It was a 
sight he had seen often, but never 
with the sense of challenge he ex- 
perienced now. For every moment 
brought him closer to what beyond 
all doubt would be the toughest 
fight of his political career. But he 
felt that he had logic on his side, 
though sentiment would very prob- 
ably be against him. 

He sat back, lit a cigarette, and 
considered the irony of the situa- 
tion. When legislation had been 
passed authorizing the Department 
of Extraterrestrial Development to 
start the colony project, a list of 
criteria had been drawn up for the 


would-be settler. It had meticulous- scheme of things? Was not ma- 

ly specified the requirements of turity essentially a realistic, but 

health, intelligence, and adaptabil- wholly irrevocable, resignation? If 

ity. And most rigidly adhered to of so, it had been inevitable that those 

all had been the provision that the who came to volunteer would, for 

applicant be over the age of twenty- the most part, be the misfits and 

five. For, above all, it was assumed, the malcontents, men who hoped 

a colonist must be mature. to escape the imagined or to find 

And in that assumption, Duran the imaginary, 
concluded, had been hidden the The mature, the resigned, had 

fallacy which had made a fiasco of assuredly inherited the earth. Only 

the project. For was not maturity the young could seek the stars. 

largely a matter of finding an ac- 
ceptable place for oneself in the 


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Illustrated by Paul Orban 

High Dragon Bump 


// it took reduction or torch 

hair, the Cirissins wanted a 

bump. Hokum, thistle, gluck. 

A YOUNG and very beautiful 
girl with golden blond hair and 
smooth skin the color of creamed 
sweet potatoes floated in the middle 
of the windowless metal room into 
which Wayne Brighton drifted. 
The girl was not exactly naked, but 
her few filmy clothes concealed 

Wayne cleared his throat, his ap- 


prehensioii changing rapidly to con- 

"You are going to reduce me?" 
he asked. 

"The word is seduce, mister," the 
girl said. "They told me reduce, 
too, but they don't talk real good, 
and I think I'm supposed to seduce 
you so you'll tell 'em something, 
and then they'll let me go. I guess. 
I hope. What is it they wantcha to 
tell 'em?" 

Wayne cleared his throat again, 
striving merely to keep a firm grip 
on his sanity. Things had been hap- 
pening much too fast for him to 
have retained anything like his cus- 
tomary composure. 

He said, "Well, they want me to 
get them a, uh — ^well, a high 
dragon bump." He pronounced the 
words carefully. 

"So why dontcha?" the girl 

Wayne's voice rose. "I don't even 
know what it is. I told them and 
they don't believe me. Now you're 
here! I suppose if I can't be re- 
duced — seduced — into getting them 
one, it will wind up with torch hair. 
Believe me, I never heard of a high 
dragon bump." 

"Now, don't get panicky!" the 
girl pleaded. "After all, I'm scared 

"I am not scared!" Wayne re- 
plied indignantly. But he realized 
that he was. 

So far, in the hour or so he'd 
been a captive of the Cirissins, he'd 
managed to keep his fright pretty 
well subdued. He'd understood al- 
most at once what had happened, 
and his first reaction had not been 
terror or even any great degree of 


He was a scientist and he had a 
scientist's curiosity. 

And at first the Cirissins^ — or the 
one that had done all the talking — 
had been cooperative in answering 
his questions. But then, when he 
wasn't able to comprehend what 
they meant by high dragon bump, 
they'd started getting impatient. 

"What's your name?" he asked 
the girl. She was making gentle 
swimming motions with her hands 
and feet, moving gradually closer 
to him. 

"Sheilah," she said. "Sheilah 
Ralue. I'm a model. I pose for 
pitchers. You know — for sexy 
magazines and calendars and stuff 
like that." 

"I see. You were posing 

"When they snatched me, yeah. 
Couple hours ago, I guess. The 
flash bulb went off and blinded me 
for a second like it always does, and 
I seemed to be falling. Then I was 
here. Only I still don't even know 
where here is. Do you? How come 
we don't weigh nothing? It's 

"We're in a space ship," Wayne 
told her. "In free fall, circling earth 
a thousand miles or so out. I 
thought you at least knew we were 
in a space ship." 

The girl said, "Oh, bull. We can't 
be in no space ship. How'd we get 
here so fast?" 

"They have a matter transmitter, 
but I haven't the slightest idea of 
how it works. Obviously it's limited 
to living creatures or they could just 
as well have taken whatever it is 
they want instead of . . . You don't 


happen to know what a high dragon 
bump is, do you?" 

"Don't be dumb. Of course I . . . 
well, unless it's a dance or some- 
thing. I use to be a dancer, ya 
know. Sort of." 

"With bubbles, I imagine," 
Wayne said. 

"Tassles. They was my specialty. 
But there's more money in posing 
for pitchers, and the work ain't 
quite so — -" 

"I doubt that a high dragon 
bump is a dance," Wayne said. 

Then he rubbed his chin. High 
dragon bump? Bumps and grinds? 
Highland fling? Chinese dragon 
dances? Hell, why not? 

The idea of space travelers visit- 
ing earth to learn a new dance was 
no more fantastic than the idea of 
them being here at all. 

Wayne turned his face to the 
door and shouted, "Hey, is that it? 
A dance? You want us to teach you 
a dance called the high dragon 

A muffled metallic voice from the 
other side said, "Nod danz. Bump. 
HugufF quig." 

Wayne shrugged and grinned 
weakly at Sheilah. "Well, we're 
making headway. We know one 
thing that it isn't." 

The girl had drifted so close to 
him now that he could feel the 
warmth of her body and smell the 
overwhelming fragrance of her per- 

She put one hand on his arm, 
and Wayne found that he had nei- 
ther the strength nor the inclina- 
tion to jerk away. 

But he protested weakly, "Now, 
listen, there's no point in you — I 


mean — even if we did, I couldn't 
produce a high dragon bump." 

"What kind of work do you do, 
mister?" Sheilah asked softly, draw- 
ing herself even closer. "You know, 
you ain't even told me your name 

"It's Wayne," he said, fumbling 
in an effort to loosen his tie so he 
could breath more easily. "I'm an 
instructor. I teach physics at Kyler 
College, and I've got a weekly sci- 
ence show on TV. In fact I'd just 
finished my show when they got me. 
I was leaving the studio, starting 
down the stairs. Thought at first 
I'd missed a step and was falling, 
but I just kept falling. And I landed 
here, and . . . Now, don't do that!" 

"Why, I wasn't doing nothing. 
Whaddya do on your TV show?" 

"I talk. About science. Physics. 
Like today, I was discussing 
the H-bomb. How it works, you 
know, and why the fallout is dan- 
gerous, and . . . Oh, good Gawd! 
Seduce, reduce! High dragon 

He shoved her away from him 
abruptly and violently and he went 
hurtling in the opposite direction. 

"Weil, hey!" Sheilah protested. 
"You don't need to get so rough. I 
wasn't going to — " 

"Shut up," Wayne said. "I think 
I've figured out what the Cirissins 

"Hey! Hey, open the door," he 
shouted. "I've got to talk to you." 

The door opened and a Cirissin 
floated in. 

Sheilah turned her head away, 
shuddering, and Wayne found it 
wise to close his eyes and open 
them little by little to grow reac- 


customed to the sight gradually. 

The only thing he could think of 
with which to compare the Ciris- 
sins was the intestinal complex of 
an anemic elephant. 

It was not an entirely satisfactory 
comparison; but then, from his 
point of view, the Cirissins were en- 
tirely unsatisfactory creatures. 

Each of the four he had seen was 
nearly twice his size. They had no 
recognizable features such as eyes, 
ears, nose, head, arms or legs. 

Tentacle-like protrusions of vari- 
ous size and length seemed to serve 
as the sensory and prehensile or- 
gans. Wayne had identified one 
waving, restless flexible stalk as the 
eye. He suspected another of being 
the mouth, except that it appar- 
ently wasn't used for talking. The 
voice came from somewhere deep 
inside the convoluted mass of pastel 
streaked tissue. 

"Wand tog?" the Cirissin rum- 

Wayne said, "Yes. Do you mind 
telling me what you want a high 
dragon bump for?" 

"Blast away hearth," the Cirissin 
replied unhesitatingly. 

Wayne swallowed and found it 
unnaturally difficult to do so. 

"To blast away earth?" he said. 
"You can do that with just one 
high dragon bump?" 

"Certificate. Alteration energy 
maguntoot. Compilated, though. 
Want splain?" 

Wayne said, "Never mind. I be- 
lieve you. Just tell me this: Why? 
Who do you feel it's necessary to 
do it?" 

"Cause is necessary," the Cirissin 
explained. "Hearth no good. Whee 


dual lake. Godda gut red oft." 

Sheilah gasped, "Why the inhu- 
man beasts!" 

Wayne expended one sidelong si- 
lencing glance on her and then said, 
"I see. And just suppose now that I 
don't give you a high dragon 
bump? What do you do then?" 

"Use hot tummy ache your 
arnium fishing bumps. Got them us 
elves. Tooking longthier, more hur'f- 
ful, but can. Few don't gives high 
dragon bump tweddy far whores, 
thin godda." 

Wayne was silent for a while, 
staring at the alien creature, aware 
of Sheilah staring at him. 

"Twenty-four hours," he mut- 
tered. "Then they use uranium fis- 
sion bombs. Oh, hell!" 

Finally he shrugged. "All right, 
I'll do it. Anyway, I'll try. I'll do 
what I can." 

Sheilah said, "Hey, listen mister, 
you can't . . ." 

"Shut up!" Wayne snapped. 
"How do you know what I can do? 
You just let me handle this." 

"No sea juicing?" the Cirissin 
asked, waving his eye stem at 

"No. No sea juicing, and no 
torch hair either, please. I just 
didn't understand what you wanted 
at first. Now, if I could talk to your 
captain — or, are you the captain?" 

The Cirissin replied, "I spoke 
man. Name Orealgrailbliqu. Capi- 
tate nod sparking merry can lan- 
guish. I only earning languish. Gut, 
hah? Tree whacks." 

"Uh, yeah, very good indeed," 
Wayne said. "And in only three 
weeks! Now, Mr. — you don't mind 
if I call you O'Reilly, do you? Well, 


then, O'Reilly, do you have any 
suggestions as to how I should go 
about getting you a high dragon 
bump? You want me to make you 
one? Or—" 

"Yukon Mike?" O'Reilly asked. 

Wayne shrugged modestly. "Of 
course. With proper materials and 
equipment — and enough time." He 
wondered if there was any chance 
at all of convincing O'Reilly of 

"Nod mush timeless," O'Reilly 
said doubtfully. "God gut lab tarry, 
few wand lug." 

Wayne hesitated, partly to trans- 
late O'Reilly's rumblings and part- 
ly to marvel at an audacious idea 
taking shape in his mind. 

He said, "Uh, yes, by all means. 
I do want to look at your labora- 
tory. Let's go." 

The Cirissin ofTered no objec- 
tions to Sheilah accompanying 
them, so they followed him, pulling 
themselves along the tubular corri- 
dor by means of metal rings set in 
the walls, apparently for that spe- 
cific purpose. 

It was the same means of pro- 
pulsion employed by their guide, 
except that he used tentacles in- 
stead of hands. 

They were more awkward than 
he, and so they fell behind. 

"Listen, mister," Sheilah said. 
"You're not really gonna help these 
creeps, are ya? Cause, I mean, if 
you are I'm gonna stop you — one 
way or another." 

Wayne looked at her, feeling a 
deep sadness that anything so gor- 
geous could be so stupid. Stirred to 
self-consciousness by her near- 
nudity, he glanced quickly away. 


"Why don't you quit trying to 
think?" he advised her. "I may not 
be able to make a high dragon 
bump, but so help me I'm going to 
do my damnedest to see that they 
get one. And don't you get any 
stupid patriotic ideas. You just keep 
out of it. Understand?" 

O'Reilly had thrown open a door 
and was waiting for them. 

Wayne looked inside. 

"Smatter? Dun lake lab tarry?" 
the Cirissin asked after waiting 
nearly a minute for some comment. 

The laboratory probably wasn't 
adequate to produce a hydrogen 
bomb, Wayne realized; but he 
wasn't at all sure. It was the 
most complex, complete and com- 
pact laboratory he had ever seen. 
Its sheer size forced him to revise 
upward his estimate of the overall 
size of the ship. 

Much of the equipment was 
totally alien to him, but there was 
also a great deal that he could at 
least guess the purpose of. Includ- 
ing a fabulous array of electronic 

When Wayne still didn't say any- 
thing, the Cirissin closed the door. 
"Batter blan," he announced. 
"Wheeze india buck terth. Cup 
girlish ear. Torch herf youdon 
brink high dragon bump." 

Wayne said, "Huh?" 

"Flow me." O'Reilly led Wayne 
and Sheilah through a maze of cor- 
ridors, tunnels and hatchways, 
stopping at last to throw open a 
door and let Wayne peer into the 
control cabin of a miniature space 

O'Reilly jumblingly explained 
that it was a reconnaisance ship, 


used for visiting the surface of a 
planet when it was impractical to 
land the mother ship. 

The control board was simple: a 
few dials, one or two buttons, sev- 
eral switches and a viewplate. It 
looked too simple. 

Wayne said, "Now, wait. Let's 
see if I have this straight. You want 
me to take this ship to earth and 
swipe you a high dragon bump. 
And you're going to keep Sheilah 
here and torture her if I don't de- 
liver the goods, huh?" 

The Cirissin said that was right. 
"Kwiger butter. Jus bush piggest 
putton. Token ley tours gutther." 

"I see. And what about com- 
munications?" Wayne asked. "Is 
the boat equipped with radio? 
How can I let you know when I 
have your high dragon bump?" 

O'Reilly said, "Can't. Combun- 
dlecations Cirissin only." 

From his further explanation 
Wayne gathered that communica- 
tions between the two ships was on 
the basis of some sort of ampliiied 
brain waves, and could carry only 
the brain waves of Cirissins. 

Wayne considered the situation. 

Two hours to get to earth. No 
radio. The big Cirissin ship was cir- 
cling earth at an unknown distance, 
unknown speed and unknown direc- 
tion. And although the ship was 
enormous, it would be impossible to 
spot it from earth unless you knew 
exactly where to look. 

He said, "It would really be bet- 
ter, wouldn't it, if I could make the 
high dragon bump right here?" 

O'Reilly agreed that it would be 

"Well, let me try. You've got a 


good lab, and we have plenty of 
time. Twenty-four hours, you said? 
Well, give me about ten hours in 
the laboratory. If I can't produce a 
high dragon bump in that time I'll 
take the small ship down and get 
you one. Okay?" 

While the Cirissin thought it over 
in meditative silence Wayne was 
aware of Sheilah watching him 
with cold, hostile eyes. He wished 
he could explain things to her, but 
he didn't dare try. 

Finally O'Reilly said, "Hokum. 
Tenners in lab. Thistle." 

"It'll be enough," Wayne as- 
sured him. 

SHEILAH was taken back to the 
room where Wayne had met 
her and the Cirissin instructed her 
to stay there. He closed the door 
but did not lock it. Then he took 
Wayne back to the lab. 

"Neediest hulp?" he asked. 

"Hulp? Help? Uh . . . Why, no. 
No thanks. I can manage fine by 
myself. In fact I'd rather work 
alone. Fewer distractions the better, 
you know." 

"Hack saw lent. Wheel buz2y 
preparation. In trol room few de- 
riding hulp needed." Then O'Reilly 
floated out the door. 

Wayne was astounded. He'd tak- 
en it for granted that the Cirissin 
would insist on supervising him, 
and he'd been evolving elaborate 
plans for escaping his attention. 

But Wayne thought he had the 
explanation for the Cirissins' idiotic 

This ship and everything about 
it indicated an extremely high in- 


telligence and an advanced culture. 

Everything, that is, but the Ciris- 
sins themselves. 

The idea of kidnaping him from 
earth to provide them with a weap- 
on to destroy earth; kidnaping 
Sheilah to seduce him; the idea of 
even expecting him to be able to 
produce such a weapon — it was all 

There was only one explanation 
that he could see. 

The Cirissins were idiots. 

Some other race had produced 
this ship. These cosmic degenerates 
had somehow gotten hold of it and 
were on a mad binge through the 
universe, destroying all the worlds 
they didn't like. 

He wondered how many they'd 
already wiped out. They had to be 

Wayne immediately started con- 
structing a radio transmitter from 
convenient materials in the labora- 
tory. It was fairly simple. 

He was not interrupted for near- 
ly two hours. At which time he was 
saying into his improvised micro- 
phone : 

"Seven hours? That long? Can't 
make it any sooner than that? Five 
hours? Six?" 

And then it was not a Cirissin 
voice behind him which said: 
"Drop that. Put up your hands and 
turn around!" 

It was Sheilah. 

Wayne turned and saw her float- 
ing at the doorway pointing a long, 
tubular metal object at him, her 
finger poised on a protruding lever. 

"What's that?" Wayne asked. 

Sheilah said, "It's a gun I found 
after lookin' all over the damn ship. 


I'm going to kill you. And then I'm 
going to kill your Cirissin friends. 
You're nothing but a dirty traitor, 
and I wouldn't seduce you if — I 
never did trust you scientists. May- 
be I'll be killed, too, but I don't 
care." She was close to tears. 

"You're going to kill me?" 
Wayne said. "With that? How do 
you know it's even a gun? Looks 
more like a fire extinguisher to me. 
Aw, you poor little imbecile, I 
haven't had a chance to explain yet, 

Sheilah said, "You make me 
sick." She pulled the trigger. 

The object was not a fire ex- 
tinguisher, after all. It was quite 
obviously a weapon of some kind. 

Also it seemed obvious that 
Sheilah had been pointing the 
wrong end of the weapon toward 

One more obvious fact that 
Wayne had time to comprehend 
was that the weapon was not a re- 
coilless type. 

But by then Sheilah had gone 
limp and the gun had rebounded 
from her grasp and was sailing at 
Wayne's head. 

He ducked but not fast enough. 
The object whacked him solidly 
on top of his head. 

His brain exploded into a dis- 
play of dazzling lights, excruciating 
pain and deafening noise. 

Then the lights went out and a 
long, dense silence set in. 

When Wayne fought through the 
layers of renewed pain and opened 
his eyes, he was still floating near 
his makeshift radio equipment in 
the laboratory. 

Sheilah still hung limply in mid- 

air near the door. The tubular 
weapon wavered near the ceiling. 
The radio transmitter was still 

It was just as though he'd been 
unconscious no more than a few 
minutes. But Wayne had a strong 
feeling that it had been more than 

Therefore he was only shocked, 
rather than stunned, when a glance 
at his wristwatch indicated six 
hours and forty minutes had 

He held his head tightly in both 
hands to keep it from flying off in 
all directions at once, and he tried 
to think. 

He knew it was important to 
think — fast and straight. 

Six hours and forty minutes. 

That was too long to be xmcon- 
scious from a simple blow on the 
head, and his head didn't really 
hurt that bad. 

Probably the weapon had still 
been firing whatever mysterious 
ammunition it used when it struck 
him; and when it bounced off his 
head it had turned, and he'd been 
caught in its blast. 

But that didn't matter. That 
wasn't the important thing. 

Six hours and forty minutes he'd 
been out. 

Seven hours! 

The Defense Department official 
he'd spoken to had told him seven 

And thank God it wasn't five 
hours or six, as he'd been urging 
them to make it. 

Anyway he had only twenty min- 
utes now. Possibly a little more, but 
just as likely less. 


That realization should have 
spurred him to instantaneous and 
heroic action, but instead it para- 
lyzed him for several minutes. He 
couldn't think what to do. He 
couldn't get his muscles and nerves 
functioning and coordinated. 

The absence of gravity didn't 
help. He thrashed about futilely. 

But at last, almost by accident, 
his feet touched a metal support 
beam, and he pushed himself to- 
ward Sheilah. He grabbed her 
around the waist with one arm and 
with his free hand pulled both of 
them through the door. 

It seemed a long, long time be- 
fore he got Sheilah to the recon- 
naisance ship. By then the twenty 
minutes were up. His life was going 
into overtime. 

Sheilah was conscious but still 
disorganized and limp, struggling 
weakly and ineffectually. Wayne 
fumbled with the door, got it open 
and shoved her inside. 

Then he pulled himself in and 
closed the door. 

They might make it yet. They 
still had a chance. 

He studied the control board, de- 
ciding on the proper button to push. 

From behind him Sheilah 
screamed, "The bomb! You've got 
the bomb and you're going to — 
Well, you're not!" 

Her body slammed against his 
shoulders and her arms encircled 
his neck. Her fingers clawed at his 

Wayne struggled, not to free him- 
self, but only to get one hand loose, 
to reach the control board. When 
he did get a hand free, they had 
floated too far from the controls. 


"Stop it, you stupid bitch!" 
Wayne snarled. "You're going to 
kill us both!" 

Wayne said, "Listen, there's a 
guided missile from earth heading 
straight for this ship, and it has a 
hydrogen bomb warhead. It'll get 
here any minute now and when 

His words were broken off by the 
tremendous roar and concussion of 
the hydrogen bomb. 

Wayne's last thought before ob- 
livion swallowed him was that they 
wouldn't have had time to escape, 

But that wasn't the end. Wayne 
woke up enough to refuse to believe 
he was alive, and O'Reilly was 
somewhere near, telling him: 

"Cirissins full of grate your forts. 
Radio eggulant blan. Thankel 
normous. Rid of earth now. Blasted 
away. Givish good high dragon 
bump. Yukon gome now." 

Wayne groaned. The meaning of 
O'Reilly's words was trying to get 
through to his brain, and he was 
trying desperately to keep the 
meaning out. 

O'Reilly's voice receded into a 
thick gray fog. "Keep shib. Shores. 
Presirent felpings. Gluck," 

Metal slammed against metal. 
Wayne slammed against something 
hard. And darkness closed in once 

But this time it wasn't so smoth- 
ering and didn't last nearly so long. 

When he opened his eyes his head 
was clear. He wasn't floating. He 
was lying on something hard — a 
floor surface of the Cirissin landing 
ship. He didn't ache anywhere. 

All in all he felt pretty good. 


For the first few seconds. 

Then he started remembering 
things, and he wished he hadn't 
bothered to wake up. 

Sheilah was standing by the con- 
trol panel, her back to him. She 
blocked the view screen, but Wayne 
didn't want to see it anyway. He 
wasn't even curious. 

Sheilah turned, saw him, smiled 

She said, "Gee, mister, I guess 
you're a hero. I dunno how you 
done it, but you made 'em go away, 
and you made 'em turn us loose." 
Wayne could detect no mockery or 
bitterness in her voice. 

"Aw, shut up," he growled. 

"You still mad at me cause of 
what I done? Well, gee, I'm sorry. 
I didn't get whatcha were up to. I 
guess I still don't, but . . . Oh, hell, 
let's don't fight about it. It don't 
matter now, does it?" 

Wayne shook his head wearily. 
"No," he agreed. "It doesn't mat- 
ter now." 

Sheilah moved away from the 
control board and came toward 
him. In her filmy, transparent cos- 
tume, she was the quintessence of 
womanly allure. 

Wayne gasped and stared, but 
not at her. 

The view screen had become visi- 
ble when she'd moved. 

It showed earth. ' 

Or a curved, cloud-veiled slice 
of earth. Intact, serene and growing 
steadily larger. 

"What the hell! Why, I thought 
. . ." Wayne jumped to his feet, 
brushed past Sheilah and peered 
more closely at the view plate. 
There was no mistaking it. Earth. 


"What's a matter with you, 
mister?" Sheilah a^ked. 

Wayne felt dizzy. O'Reilly had 
said, "Earth blasted away," hadn't 
he? And the H-bomb hadn't de- 
stroyed the Cirissin ship. There- 
fore . . . Well, therefore what? 

In the first place what O'Reilly 
had actually said was, "Rid of 
earth now. Blasted away." It wasn't 
quite the same as . . . 

O'Reilly had never said anything 
about destroying earth. 

Quite a sizeable re-evaluation 
project was taking place in Wayne's 
mind. It took several minutes for 
all the pieces to fall into their prop- 
er places. But once he was willing 
to realize that the Cirissins had 
known what they were doing, every- 
thing seemed obvious, 

"Oh, good Gawd!" he muttered. 
"^Vhat utter idiots!" 

"The Cirissins?" Sheilah asked. 

"No, I mean us. Me. Good Lord, 
just because O'Reilly's English 
wasn't perfect! What did I expect 
for only three weeks? Hummm. 
The atomic structure of the entire 
ship must be uniformly charged to 
. . . Damn! High dragon bump!" 

"I don't getcha," Sheilah said. 
"What's with this high dragon 
bump business? I thought they 
wanted a hydrogen bomb to de- 
stroy earth, and I thought you'd 
agreed to help 'em, and so I 
thought . . ." 

"Oh, never mind," Wayne said. 
"I know what you thought, and you 
weren't any more stupid than I 
was. We were both wrong. 

"Look, the Cirissins must have 
been stalled — out of gas, sort of. 
Something had gone wrong with 
their nuclear drive imits. They had 
some emergency fuel, but they 
didn't want to use it. Like having 
a can of kerosene in the car when 
the tank runs dry, I suppose. It will 
work, but it messes up the engine. 
You understand so far?" 


"Okay then. They happened to 
be close to earth, so they went into 
an orbit around it and studied it 
for a while on radio and TV bands, 
and realized they might be able to 
get help without using their emer- 
gency fuel — uranium, incidentally, 
not kerosene. 

"So they grabbed us. Me, I sup- 
pose because they'd seen my TV 
science program. They must have 
gotten the idea from some stupid 
spy show that scientists have to be 
seduced into revealing information. 
That's why they picked up you." 

Sheilah interrupted, "But what 
did they want? I thought . . ." 

Patiently, Wayne said, "Just 
what they said. A high dragon 
bump. A bump, not a bomb. A 
boost, a push. Not to blast away 
earth, but to blast away from earth. 
That's all." E N D 

The scientific humanist doesn't pretend that every experience of life can 
be forced into a test tube or that every interest can be weighed on scales. 
He knows that something in everything always escapes the technique of 
measurement. , — Max Otto 


What Is Your Science I. Q.? 

THE WIDE, wide world in all its aspects. Score yourself 5 for 
each correct answer. Eighty or more makes you a galactic of 
some standing. Answers on page 120. :■ 

I 1. Which of the following is secreted by the salivary glands: 

erepsin, ptyalin, pepsin? K 

2. What does parabolic velocity mean? 

3. What is the chief difference between algae and fungi? 

4. What part of the brain serves as the pathway for impulses 
from the brain to the spinal cord? 

5. How do protozoa reproduce? it 

6. What is a Robinson Cup? ' 

7. Which of the following refers to rare earths: actinide series, * 
lanthanide series? 

8. What would a magnitude of -15 indicate about a star? 
I 9. What is paedogenesis? 

10. What have fibrinogen and thrombin in common? 

11. What is the Fitzgerald effect? 

12. Which undergoes a greater expansion due to a one degree 
rise in temperature, silver or zinc? 

13. What is the magnitude of the faintest star still visible to the 
naked eye? 

14. What is a Guyot? 

15. Which radioactive rays can have their direction most defi- 

nitely changed by a magnetic field? 

16. Cumulonimbus clouds indicate what sort of weather? 

17. Moving bodies on the Earth's surface are deflected in which 
direction north of the equator? '.■■ 

18. A man weighing 170 pounds would weigh how much under 
the pressure of 2 gravities? 

19. What is the name of the South Pole star? [ 

20. What is a meson? r 




There is no return — at least, not 
for us. There are too few of us, and 
too many of the robots, and they 
know too much and are too strong. 
Our children, or their children, 
may figure out a way to persuade 
or force the Central Intelligence to 
build another Gift Horse and to 
send her back in Time, as our Gift 
Horse was sent. 

But will they want to? 

(Continued from page 47) 

Because we are no longer a pov- 
erty-stricken bunch on Dunsinane. 
We live better than lords ever lived. 
Many of our contemporaries, in our 
own time, would have envied us. 

It's just that at night when we 
look up to the sky, to the black sky 
with those pitifully few, faint stars 
like candles going out one by one 
in the windy dark, we feel so 
damned lonely. END 


"They returned our visit, and 
what did they find? What kind of a 
pestilent horror did we live in? Bare 
ground, teeming with life, billions 
of life forms in every cubic foot of 
ground beneath our feet. Above the 
ground, too. Raw, growing life all 
around us, towering over us. 

"If they were doomed to live in 
such a world, they would want it 
covered in salt, to kill all the life, 
make it antiseptic. They owed 
nothing to the rest of Earth, but 

(Continued from page 65) 

they owed this kindness to you. 
They did unto others, as they would 
have others do unto them." 

"I never realized — I was sure I 
couldn't be . . . I've built my life 
around it," she said. 

"I know," I said with a regretful 
sigh. "So many people have." 

And yet, I still wonder if it might 
not have happened at all — if I 
hadn't winked. I wonder if that 
pesty psychiatrist has been right, all 
along? END 

^■l m 


"That's well and good," agreed 
Marguerite, "but we have to agree 
that no one of us wiU be favored 
above the others. He has to under- 
stand that from the start." 

"That's fair," said Alice, pursing 
her lips. "Yes, that's fair. But I 
agree with Marguerite: he must be 
divided equally among the four of 

Chattering over the details, the 
hard competitiveness vanished from 

(Continued from page 86) 

their tones, the four left the sick- 
room to prepare supper. 

After supper they went back in. 

Herbert stood by the bed, the 
eternal smile of service on his metal 
face. As always, Herbert had not 
required a direct command to ac- 
cede to their wishes. 

The man was divided into four 
quarters, one for each of them. It 
was a very neat surgical job. END 




Wings of clay may be the answer to 
problems of high-speed aviation of 
the future. Engineers at the Uni- 
versity of California at Los Angeles 
have designed and tested ceramic 
wings under simulated flight loads 
and results indicate that ceramic 
materials can withstand the high 
temperatures created by aerodyna- 
mic heating. Use of tension cables 
in prestressing the ceramics over- 
comes the brittle quality which 
would make such wings seem un- 

A mirror system developed by the 
Libbey-Owen-Ford Glass company 
is the key to a new landing system 
for aircraft carriers. Using a curved 
mirror about four by four feet 
mounted on an automatic stabiliz- 
ing frame, and four bright lights 
which are beamed into the mirror 
to form an optical glide beam for 
the pilot, the new system gives a 
pilot 20 seconds instead of the usual 
three or four to position his aircraft 

A radio pill that can be swallowed 
by a patient and then tuned in by 
doctors as it broadcasts information 
from the stomach has been per- 
fected by R. G. A. The tiny trans- 
mitter once in the intestinal tract 

can send out information on pres- 
sure, temperature and chemical 
changes. To pick up the internal 
broadcast, a doctor uses an X-ray 
machine or a small tuned antenna 
close by the body. 

A plan to erect a 600 foot high 
skyport, supported by three glass- 
clad towers, in central London has 
been revealed. Considered the an- 
swer to requirements for the year 
2000, the cloverleaf platform with 
three sections will provide space for 
handling 24 aircraft per hour. The 
three shafts, supporting the plat- 
form section, consist of finned struc- 
tural drums encased in outer cylin- 
ders of glass, behind which high 
speed elevators will operate. 

A new dieting drug that does not 
make the user nervous or jumpy is 
something that should interest those 
trying to lose a few pounds. It is 
an appetite-depressant called Lev- 
onor, claimed to have absolutely no 
side efifects. Exhibited recently to 
the American Medical Association, 
its great advantage was described as 
having no stimulating effect on the 
nervous system, diminishes hunger 
without cutting it out completely, is 
inexpensive, and can be used by 
virtually all dieters. 

This month in Brussels, Belgium, 
marks the opening of the first 
World's Fair in nearly 20 years. 
Emphasis will be on science and its 
peaceful uses. Dominating the en- 
tire fair grounds will be a giant, 
360-foot structure called The Atom- 
ium. Shaped to resemble the ar- 
rangement of atoms in an elemen- 


tar)' crystal of metal, the Atomium 
will symbolize the Brussel's Fair 
much the way the Trylon and Peris- 
phere did the last World's Fair in 
New York in 1939. The 500 acres 
of Heysel Park, four miles from the 
center of the city, will house the ex- 
hibits of 48 nations. 

A new electric typewriter, with a 
ten-key companion keyboard, has 
just been announced by IBM. It 
has a magnetic core "memory" and 
can be programmed to automatical- 
ly retain and type out gross sales, 
compute taxes, miscellaneous 
charges, invoice totals, add, sub- 
tract, multiply, extend, hold in 
"memory" for later processing, etc. 

Simplicity of operation is the key- 
note in a new electric eye, 8mm 
motion picture camera developed by 
Bell & Howell. It has a lens that 
opens or closes automatically ac- 
cording to the brightness of the 
light in which it is being used. 
For example, in bright sunlight the 
camera lens closes to restrict the 
amount of light entering the cam- 
era; in dull light, the lens opens. In 
automatic operation, the lens is in- 
stantly set for correct exposure, as 
the camera is aimed at its subject, 
activated by a photocell that con- 
verts solar or light energy to me- 
chanical energy to open or close the 

A tiny tube the size of a cigarette 
filter tip that shows how long a 
radio, TV picture tube or other 
electronic device has been operating 
has been developed by Raytheon. 
The timer weighs less than one- 

sixth of an ounce, and runs on 
about the same amount of energy 
generated by a flea. It is completely 
self-sealed and impervious to sur- 
rounding conditions, can operate 
immersed in liquid and in any posi- 
tion and works equally well in hot 
or cold temperatures. It is so small 
and light that it can be used in 
individual sections of a large com- 
plex electronic system. Simple to 
install and much cheaper than 
mechanical timing devices, the new 
timer could save millions of dollars 
on jet precision bombers, motor 
bearings, heater elements, TV trans- 
mitters, electronic computers and 
mobile radio car fleets. 

Blood-letting, the medieval practice 
of draining off various amounts of 
the body's vital fluid will soon be 
back in style, but for newer and 
more scientific reasons. Plamapher- 
esis, a type of blood-letting where 
the whole blood is removed, di- 
vorced from its plasma content, and 
then immediately put back into the 
donor, has dramatically opened new 
opportunities for the treatment of 
disease as well as the stockpiling of 
valuable plasma for emergencies. A 
pint of blood is removed each time 
and put into a centrifuge that sep- 
arates the red blood cells from the 
plasma. The plasma is taken off for 
other uses and the red cells are back 
in the body in 21 minutes. In cases 
of poisoning the toxic substances 
can be removed from the blood 
much more quickly than by an arti- 
ficial kidney; plasma taken from 
immune donors can be used to con- 
trol diseases such as diptheria, tet- 
anus, etc. in other persons. 


Mr. Barnhart, in your December 
issue, deprecates the methods — or 
lack of methodology — employed by 
science fiction writers when dealing 
with the problem of space travel. 
The factors of the problem are the 
old familiar ones of space (or dis- 
tance), time, and velocity, inherent 
to the action of travel. The ap- 
parent stumbling block involved in 
problems where distance is astro- 
nomical is the Einsteinian axiom 
that : "when v approaches the value 
of c then the increase of mass be- 
comes very great, reaching infinity 
when V becomes the speed of light. 
As infinite mass offers infinite resis- 
tance, then no body can travel with 
the speed of light." 

The above is elementary, and so 
is the obvious reluctance of most 
students to heed the asterisk that 
usually follows the above statement 
and requests the reader to see ap- 
pendix. In the appendix we find the 

statement concerning increase of 
mass in ratio to velocity, sUghtly 
expanded: "a body moving with 
the velocity v, which absorbs an 
amount of energy, in the form of 
radiation without suffering an alter- 
ation in velocity in the process, has, 
as a consequence, its energy in- 
creased etc. — the increased energy, 
of course, becomes an increase in 
the inertial mass of the given body. 

Here we see that the increase in 
mass is caused by the absorption of 
radiation; and, it would be a logical 
process, within the realm of matter- 
of-fact knowledge, to have the in- 
ferred space ship radiation-repul- 
sant (or proof), thus eliminating, or 
greatly decreasing, the need for au- 
thor-magic. The ship might even 
be able to absorb controlled 
amounts of radiation and use the 
radiation for fuel! — the more speed, 
the more available fuel; the more 
fuel, the more speed, etc. Simply 
put (if it already hasn't been), if 
the ship does not absorb radiation, 
it does not increase its mass; and 
if mass is not increased there is no 
limit put to its speed by a non-ex- 
isting increase in mass. 

Purely speaking, velocity has no 
"body", and cannot impart that 
which it does not have. Velocity is 
an "action" of bodies, not a body 
in itself! — and I, for one, wish 
velocity would cease assimiing sta- 
tus to which it has no claim. 

Even with speeds in excess of 
light achieved by relatively logical 
methods, I suppose that some au- 
thors will still insist upon the 
"mystic" confusion of the perceived 
image with the real object — the 
ship arrives before it starts; or, the 


same ship (traveling at excess light 
speeds) is seen to land twice, and, 
so, becomes twins. Such a ship in 
landing would, of course, have to 
decrease speed and its secondary 
outsped image might catch up with 
its primary. Even if it did not, and 
the ship had outdistanced its "light 
image" by any desired amount of 
time, the secondary image would 
still cease to exist at the point where 
the ship decreased its speed to less 
than light. An object is an object, 
and its image is an image; and it 
is not a theoretical necessity that 
they have temporal and spacial 
simultaneity. This separation does 
not in the least affect the matter- 
of-fact premise that one is the real 
object and the other is merely its 
image! — we are all familiar with 
the phrase series of images, and do 
not confuse object with image. 

We accept the cause of a sound 
(supersonic jet) passing us before 
the effect (sound) come tagging 
along. Is it so much more difficult 
to accept the cause of an image 
(speed-of -light ship) passing us 
sometime before the outsped, light- 
perceptible image of the ship comes 
along. And must we then say that 
both were objects, instead of object 
and belated image? 

Comes to mind that we would 
have here the separation of a trilogy 
that by custom and inference have 
always (prior to super sonic) been 
"reasoned" as going together. The 
reasoning is, of course (good old, 
Hume), based on nothing but cus- 
tom. In excess-light speeds we 
would have, first, the unperceived, 
real object; then the perceptible 

image ; and then, much, much later, 
the sound. 

— Bryden Pearce 
Garmel, California 

> I am a housewife and an incur- 
able reader. I discovered science fic- 
tion about five years ago and have 
been an addict ever since. 

As for covers and illustrations — 
the cover on a magazine doesn't sell 
me, but a list of the authors does. 
When I buy a science fiction maga- 
zine I always turn to the table of 

I enjoy most of the top flight 
authors ... I enjoy two types of 
science fiction stories especially, the 
believable adventure stories . . . 
and the humanist type plots which 
point out the road ahead to anyone 
who will see. 

I do not enjoy the pseudo-tech- 
nical mishmash, even if I am con- 
vinced that the author knows what 
he is writing about. I do not know 
what heparin's function to the hu- 
man body is, or have any knowledge 
of a cephied star . . . 

Oh, before I close, I have one pet 
peeve. I loathe and detest the grow- 
ing habit of coining new words from 
perfectly good old ones. Mag for 
magazine, Ugh! — and fanzine — I 
won't even tell you my opinion of 
that horror! 

— Thelma Bartleson 
Tacoma, Washington 

Mr. Riley has again stirred us 
with the humanistic implications of 
incipient scientific achievements. In 
this aspect of his writing his work 


is distinctive because it challenges 
us to creative contemplation of 
ethical and philosophical frontiers 
of life. With A Question of Identity 
(April IF) he raises two rather 
fundamental problems for the 

The first question is essentially 
forensic and although it is postu- 
lated for the future it has dramatic 
meaning for today. While he has 
not specifically demanded an an- 
swer to the problem, it is implicit in 
his story. Psychological research 
into conditioning factors that are 
responsible for aberrant behavior 
has long since indicated that many 
individuals have had such a trau- 
matic and painful psychogenic 
background that criminal behavior 
is a natural response on their parts. 
If a father and a mother have 
raised a child in such an atmosphere 
of frustration and denial that catas- 
trophic hostility characterises the 
child when grown, there is a very 
profound question as to where re- 
sponsibility lies when that individ- 
ual commits a felony. The law, 
which grew up under a difTerent 
understanding of human nature, 
takes no account of the destruction 
of moral qualities or emotional 

It is true that if it can be proved 
that a man is insane at the time a 
crime is committed, he is not held 
responsible. But the psychologist 
knows that a man may have an in- 
tellectual awareness that something 
is wrong and still have such a pow- 
erful compulsion that his ethical 
awareness is nothing compared to 
the overwhelming force of his emo- 
tional drive. But here the law says 


he was sane and he must pay the 
price. And if one follows out the 
reasonable inferences of a psycho- 
logical understanding of crime it 
renders a code of law essentially 
based on retaliation senseless and 
archaic. It is this assumption which 
lies behind the changing concept 
of law enforcement which empha- 
sizes therapy rather than punish- 
ment. But when it comes to the 
more violent forms of crime, society 
lapses back to its primitive penol- 
ogy, an "eye for an eye". 

The second question has to do 
with the nature of man. Of course 
the question raised by the defense 
attorney, "What is man?", has been 
raised by every philosopher and 
every spiritual leader. Mr. Riley 
gives the question a little different 
twist by making the question refer- 
rable to physiological transforma- 
tions which today seem plausible. 
New discoveries in the functions of 
certain cells in the nervous column 
of the spine indicate that these cells 
"think" and the gradient in psycho- 
logical thinking is to abandon the 
term psycho-somatic because of the 
dualism involved. 

Today, mind and body are 
thought to be so inextricably inter- 
wined that such a term does vio- 
lence to the reality of the process. If 
then personality is essentially a 
product of the interaction of one 
entity (mind-body), with other per- 
sons and with nature it is certainly 
true that radical alterations of the 
hormonal, neurological or physical 
characteristics of a person could 
produce a new and unique person. 
But this is not so unique. Endocri- 
nologists and psychiatrists have 


been doing this for years. The ques- 
tion remains as to the identity of 
the resultant personality. I have 
personally watched individuals with 
the characteristics of one sex and 
the feelings of the other changed by 
hormone therapy and operations so 
that their appearances came to be 
better aligned with their feelings. 
They had previously played the role 
of men and came now to play the 
role of women, or vice versa. In 
many cases they do not assume they 
are the same person because they 
change their name as well as their 
total pattern of life. 

To bring Mr. Riley's question 
down to the present is permissable 
in this case. Suppose Mrs. "X" 
commits a crime just before she un- 
dergoes a series of transformations 
from which she emerges as Mr. 
"X". Would the court or would 
society feel that Mr. "X" is respon- 
sible for a crime Mrs. "X" perpe- 
trated? But the question has much 
more grave implications for the re- 
ligious philosopher. We know that 
many so-called "conversions" are 
spurious, but we also know that in 
some cases the Christian goal of a 
"new-born" personality is true. 
These that are truly "saved" aban- 
don completely their previous ten- 
dencies towards crime, their bad 
habits of life, and take on by identi- 
fication a new personality. Is this 
the same person? Forensically "yes" 
and the law has always held that 
this is true, but the total change 
may be as remarkable as in the case 
Mr. Riley hypothesizes resulted 
from physical and psychological 

Finally, one must ask what is the 

essential aspect of personality then? 
What is this "soul" that Mr. Riley 
mentions? It would be fascinating 
to draw out the implications of his 
story for that concept but we can 
only suggest here that the thought- 
ful reader will do that himself. 

— Dr. James A. Peterson 
Los Angeles, Calif. 

Dr. Peterson is Marriage Counselor 
at the University of Southern Cali- 
fornia and author of the text book 
"Education for Marriage". 

Since you are curious about your 
readers — I'm a schoolteacher — high 
school English — and can add that 
a few high school students like 
science fiction; it's a natural part of 
my business to inquire into their 
reading preferences. However, in 
my observations, they are in the 
minority. Most consider the vocab- 
ulary too difficult,- of those who do 
not, many have other tastes j and 
there just can't be overlooked the 
matter of the typical science fiction 
magazine cover and its effect on 
any normal parent who doesn't 
read science fiction. 

It gives me an impression that 
your readers, unless exceptional, 
start at or beyond college age. My 
son Mike, and occasionally some of 
his friends, read my copies and 
more of their own. He's twenty, has 
long been fond of space opera if full 
of action . . . but is apparently de- 
veloping discrimination. He is an 
Air Force jet mechanic, or some- 
thing like that. There seem to be a 
lot of science fiction readers among 
the real life space cadets. 

You seem equipped to please a 


wide variety of readers, so why 
should you care? Your stories are 
generally well written, often beyond 
praise, and at the same time have 
color, action, freshness. 

About "John Sentry" — he can't 
be using a penname as an absolute 
disguise — or you wouldn't mention 
it at all. He can't be using it because 
of another story in the same issue, 
surely — imagination boggles over a 
supposition that Nourse, Clarke, or 
Asimov would write a story that 

Your quiz feature raises interest- 
ing questions but why the title? 
Doesn't fit. Intelligence tests aren't 
valid unless the population has 
equal learning opportunity, whereas 
in science it would take myriad life- 
times. Some other title would be 
more attractive and sound less fool- 
ish, wouldn't it? 

—Alma Hill 

Fort Kent, Maine 

I don't think you knew what you 
were asking for when you wrote in 
your February editorial, "The byline 
John Sentry on this issue's The Bar- 
barians is a pen name for what well 
known science-fiction author?" As 
the editor of a science-fiction mag- 
azine, you should know that some 
fans will take the greatest pains to 
discover which author is behind a 
pen name. I don't know if I should 
be proud of it or not, but I am one 
of these fans. Looking into my files, 
I found three stories by John Sentry, 
and all three magazines shared one 
other author, the prolific Isaac 
Asimov. I therefore conclude that 
John Sentry is a named used by 
Isaac Asimov for liis second story in 


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the same issue of a magazine. Am I 

— Leslie Gerber 

Brookl^Ti, New York 

Wrong . . . But luckily, a postcard 
from Mr. Gerber caught us before 
this went to press, and he has now 
succeeded in tracking down the true 
identity of "Mr. Sentrf. 

I was a little distressed with the 
editorial in the February, 1958 issue, 
and can only hope that it was writ- 
ten too soon after Sputnik for you 
to have regained your equilibrium. 

As a matter of fact, one of the 
things that has made us the laugh- 
ing-stock of the world in recent 
months is the poor sportsmanship 
with which we've taken our licking 
in the satellite field. You say, ". . . 
the Russians rushed their satellite 
into space not so much for benefit 
of the IGY as for propaganda." 

That's not so at all. The Russians 
announced they would send up 
satellites just as we did. Months be- 
fore the hoisting of Sputnik they 
announced the approximate time of 
launching and described the charac- 
teristics of Sputnik. We didn't pay 

any attention to that because until 
October 4 we never paid attention 
to the Russians as far as science was 

And the Sputniks have proven of 
great value to the IGY. Our own 
Smithsonian Observatory in Cam- 
bridge has collected enough data to 
keep it busy for years. Drs. Hynek 
and Whipple, who head it, say that 
the Soviets have kept all their agree- 
ments as far as sharing information 
was concerned. 

To be sure, the Russian poli- 
ticians have used the Sputnik for 
their own propagandistic purposes, 
— but what do you expect? When 
we had a monopoly on the A-bomb, 
we used that for all it was worth, 
propaganda- wise. 

I sincerely hope that we end by 
sending up a better satellite our- 
selves, but we'll do that only by 
buckling down to work and not by 
belittling the competition. Now isn't 
that so? 

— Isaac Asimov 

West Newton, Mass. 

No sooner said than done! 


ANSWERS: 1 — Ptyalin. 2 — Speed acquired by a body falling sunward 
from an infinite distance. 3 — Algae contain chlorophyll. 4 — Medulla 
oblongata. 5 — Fission, conjugation, spores, budding. 6 — Anemometer. 
7 — Lanthanide. 8 — A supernova, 9 — Production of offspring by larval 
-forms. 10 — Both concerned with clotting of blood. 11 — Length of a body 
contracts as speed increases. 12 — Zinc. 13 — Sixth. 14 — Underwater 
mountain in the Pacific Ocean. 15— Beta. 16 — Thunderstorms. 17 — 
Right. 18 — 340 lbs. 19 — Sigma Octantis. 20 — Nuclear particle between 
a electron and a proton. 


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